Otis Pike, who led House CIA inquiry, dies at 92

Rep. Otis Pike

Otis Pike, the former Long Island congressman who chaired the House Select Committee on Intelligence inquiry into CIA skullduggery in 1975, died Monday in Florida.

Pike’s committee was a parallel effort to the one led by Frank Church in the Senate. It investigated the CIA’s role in sponsoring coups in Chile and other countries, and if the agency spied on US citizens. Pike called for more Congressional oversight of intelligence operations in order to rein in abuses.

Though the full US House of Representatives voted to keep the Pike Report secret, the Village Voice ended up printing it after CBS’ Daniel Schorr revealed its existence.

Pike was no fan of intelligence agencies. According to the New York Times: “Mr. Pike maintained that the security agencies were inept bureaucracies that left the country vulnerable. ‘If an attack were to be launched on America in the very near future,’ he said in late 1975, ‘it is my belief that America would not know that the attack was about to be launched.’”

6 comments

  1. John Kirsch says:

    “Inept bureaucracies.” That says it all, in my opinion, or at least a great deal.
    Pike’s view reminds me of what John le Carre said about the U.S. and British spy agencies, which was that both countries would have been better off if the agencies had been disbanded.

  2. Nathaniel Heidenheimer says:

    As I recall Pike’s comments were much more fundamental than merely criticizing the CIA for bureaucratic bungling. He raised fundamental questions of the secrecy v. democracy.

    Here the U. Cal Davis historian Katherine Ohlmsted clearly states that the NYT and WaPost were crucial vehicles in the CIA’s propaganda campaign to curb public enthusiasm demanding more sunlight. This big media complicity helped the CIA turn the corner and manipulate public opinion in favor or more secrecy.

    BOY ARE WE FEELING THAT REAL HISTORY RIGHT NOW. THIS IS WHAT TEACHERS SHOULD BE TEACHING NOT THE FAKE ELECTIONS!!! http://www.amazon.com/Challenging-Secret-Government-Post-Watergate-Investigations/dp/0807845620

    • Jordan says:

      It reminds me of something I have read amongst the thousands of documents I’ve read regarding the JFK killing.

      Somewhere, someone said that the JFK cover-up would not have been possible had Phil Graham been alive….

      Or,

      The cover-up would only be possible were Graham no longer around….

  3. Ronnie Wayne says:

    It would be interesting to read his thought’s on the JFK slaughter.

  4. Fearfaxer says:

    An outstanding public servant. Got elected to Congress in 1960, representing eastern Suffolk County, Long Island, an almost impossible feat for a Democrat in those days. Served a total of 9 terms. Got the votes of a lot of people who’d never otherwise voted Democratic because he was one of them (born in Riverhead), and because of his basic honesty and sincerity. Sort of the George McGovern of the lower house of Congress in that way. Also like McGovern, a war hero, flew 120 missions as a Marine pilot. RIP, Otis, wish my folks had settled about 30 further east on LI so I could have had the honor of voting for you.

  5. Mike says:

    “If an attack was launched on America…” Can you say 9/11!

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