Former Rep. Otis Pike, a nine-term House Democrat from New York who led one of the first major congressional investigations into the CIA, died Monday.
He was 92 and died in Vero Beach, Fla., according to several media outlets.
Pike became chairman of the Intelligence Committee — more commonly known as the “Pike Committee” — in 1975, where he served as the House counterpart to the Senate’s Church Committee, led by Sen. Frank Church, D-Idaho. Pike was instrumental in investigating numerous CIA assassinations, illegal spying activities of antiwar protesters and budgetary lapses at the CIA.
The abuses were cataloged in the Pike Committee Reports, which the House voted 246-124 to not release to the public without certification from the president that the materials did not contain classified information. Journalist Daniel Schorr, then of CBS, obtained a copy of the reports and leaked them to the Village Voice in 1976.
One of his successors at the Intelligence Committee, current Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., released a statement praising Pike’s work.
“We mourn today the passing of Congressman Otis Pike, who led a groundbreaking House oversight investigation of CIA activities. The U.S. Intelligence Community receives closer scrutiny today than ever in the history of our country. That, in large part, is due to the work of Otis Pike,” Rogers said.
Pike, known as much for his bow ties as his fiery contempt of the CIA, was a character in Congress. In 1973, he delivered a House floor speech that is credited with ending a Pentagon program that gave money to desk-bound generals and admirals for flight duty, according to The Washington Post’s obituary. Pike made his point by stretching out his arms and acting like an airplane on the House floor, ridiculing the generals and admirals for accepting flight pay while working relatively safe office jobs.
Pike lost his first race for Congress in 1958, was elected in 1960, and left Congress in 1979, deciding not to seek re-election in 1978. He went on to write a column for Newhouse Newspapers for 20 years.
He grew up in Long Island and was an orphan by the age of 6. He served in the Marine Corps in the Pacific theater during World War II, then graduated in 1946 from Princeton University. He then got a degree from Columbia Law School in 1948.
Pike’s first wife, Doris Orth, died in 1996. He had three children with Doris: Lois Pike Eyre, Douglas Pike and Robert Pike, who died in 2010. In addition to two of his children, he is survived by his second wife, Barbe Bonjour Pike, and two grandchildren.