Archibald Roosevelt Jr.--a grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt and a retired CIA officer who headed the agency’s stations in Istanbul, Madrid and Lisbon--died Thursday of congestive heart failure at his home here.
Roosevelt, 72, was born to high social position in Boston, graduating from Harvard College in 1940 in the same class as President John F. Kennedy and winning a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University he was unable to pursue because of World War II.
An Army intelligence officer in the war, he joined the Central Intelligence Group, the immediate predecessor of the CIA, in 1947 and served until his retirement in 1974, always under diplomatic cover.
Though sometimes written about as having had a hand in various coups of the early 1950s, notably the overthrow of King Farouk in Egypt and of the nationalist Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, Roosevelt was the soul of discretion in his 1988 memoirs, “For Lust of Knowing: Memoirs of an Intelligence Officer.”
He did not even list his duty stations in the book--but he did tip off an interviewer to check his Who’s Who entry to figure them out.
Roosevelt confessed a fascination with the Middle East and languages, learning about 20, including Uzbek.
The intelligence officer “must not only know whose side he is on, but have a deep conviction that he is on the right side. He should not imitate the cynical protagonists of John LeCarre’s novels, essentially craftsmen who find their side no less amoral than the other,” Roosevelt once wrote.
After his retirement, he became a vice president of the Chase Manhattan Bank, based in Washington.
He is survived by his wife, Selwa Roosevelt, who was chief of protocol at the State Department during the Reagan Administration, a son by his first marriage, and two grandchildren.