Otis Pike: Congressman who used his wit and persistence to shine a light on covert overseas operations by the CIA
Pike was a critic of the 'outlandish spending' during the Vietnam War
Sunday 02 February 2014
Otis Pike was a New York congressman and persistent critic of Pentagon overspending who led one of the first congressional investigations of abuses by US intelligence agencies. Elected to the House of Representatives in 1960, he was regarded as a maverick during his 18 years in Congress.
A Democrat elected from a Republican-leaning district on Long Island, he was sceptical of Vietnam War escalation, a patrician lawyer with a wicked sense of humour, which he used to ridicule wasteful spending.
Criticising what he considered outlandish spending during the Vietnam War, he cited small metal rods with a retail cost of 50 cents. The Pentagon, which bought them for $25.55, described them as “precision shafting.” Pike declared in the House, “For once, the American taxpayer got precisely what he paid for.”
In 1973 he single-handedly grounded a $14m programme that awarded extra pay for flight duty to generals and admirals who had never piloted anything more aerodynamic than a desk at the Pentagon. But his most conspicuous moment came in 1975 after revelations of the CIA’s involvement in clandestine operations that may have included killings and coups overseas and spying on US citizens.
In July 1975 he became chairman of a committee that reviewed the activities of the CIA and other intelligence agencies. During the often testy hearings, Time called Pike “the model of a properly pugnacious public servant – sharp-tongued and not easily intimidated.” He challenged the CIA Director William Colby to accept greater oversight of the CIA’s budget. Pike was alarmed by CIA excesses, including involvement in efforts to overthrow leaders in Chile and other countries. After Secretary of State Henry Kissinger withheld documents and limited the number of State Department officials who could testify, the Pike Committee voted to hold him in contempt of Congress.
The Pike Committee called for congressional oversight over operations, a prohibition of CIA-sponsored killings and transparency in the intelligence budget. “It took this investigation”, Pike said, “to convince me I had always been told lies [and] to make me realise that I was tired of being told lies.” Eventually Pike’s investigation was overshadowed by the Senate’s Church Committee, some of whose recommendations were adopted.
Otis Grey Pike, politician: born Riverhead, New York 31 August 1921; twice married (three children); died Vero Beach, Florida 20 January 2014.
© The Washington Post
- 1 Woman 'suffocates newborn baby in plastic bag and puts it in her desk minutes after giving birth'
- 2 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 4 Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
- 5 Chinese student carries disabled friend to school every day for three years
Nepal earthquake in pictures: Photos show devastation caused by 7.8 magnitude earthquake
Royal baby: Live updates as superbug closes ward at St Mary's Hospital in London where Duchess of Cambridge is due to give birth
Nepal earthquake: Rescuers forced to dig with their bare hands in search for survivors as images show damage to historic buildings
Ed Miliband and Boris Johnson in angry clash live on BBC's Andrew Marr Show
Bali Nine executions: British grandmother on death row in Indonesia Lindsay Sandiford says she 'just wants to get it over with'
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...
£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...