Richard Helms holds the unsavory distinction of being the only director of the CIA ever convicted of lying to Congress. He did so regarding an attempt to prevent Salvador Allende from becoming president of Chile during the country’s first successful open elections in 1970.

Now in a new book, his widow Cynthia Helms attempts to explain why.

Richard Helms, who was the director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 1966 to 1973, carried out the special operation in Chile simply because President Richard Nixon told him to, she writes in “An Intriguing Life: A Memoir of War, Washington and Marriage to An America Spymaster.”

But Richard Helms, who died in 2002, lied to Congress because of two competing oaths he’d taken, Cynthia recalls.