Archibald B. Roosevelt Jr., 72 a retired intelligence officer who served as chief of the Central Intellgence Agency's stations in Istanbul, Madrid and London, died yesterday at this home in Washington. He had congestive heart failure.
A grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt and a soldier, scholar, linguist and authority on the Middle East, Mr. Roosevelt viewed his calling--and its faceless, anonymous half-world of nuance and seemingly random fact--with a hard-headed realism leavened by a kind of romanticism that that has echoes of an earlier time.
After retiring from the CIA in 1974, he became a vice president of Chase Manhattan Bank and director of international relations in its Washington office. Well known in Washington social circles in his own right, he was particularly active on the diplomatic circuit during the Reagan administration, when his wife, Selwa Showker `Lucky' Roosevelt, was chief of protocol at the State Department.
In 1988, he published a memoir called `For Lust of Knowing: Memoirs of an Intelligence Officer,' in which he adhered so strictly to this oath to keep the CIA's secrets that he did not even identify the countries where he had served. And although he was happy to tell interviewers that they could figure it out from his entry in `Who's Who in America,' he also was quick to explain that some Americans have forgotton what an oath is and that he would not break his even if the government told him to.
Instead, he gave his views on such questions as the nature of the CIA and why it attracted him, and on what intelligence officers should be and how they should see themselves in relation to their own country and the rest of the world.
`We in the CIA were always conscious of having a special mission, of being the reconaissance patrols of our government,' he wrote. Despite such vicissitudes as the Bay of Pigs disaster in Cuba in 1961, he said, the agency kept its esprit de corps even though with the passage of time it `was no longer a band of pioneers, but an organization.'
As for intelligence officers, Mr. Roosevelt said he thought of them in `the old-fashioned sense, perhaps best exemplifed in fiction by Kipling's British political officers in India.'
His notion embodied a high ideal, indeed, for the intelligence officer `must be able to empathize with true believers of every stripe in order to understand and analyze them. * * *. He must, like Chairman Mao's guerrillas, be able to swim in foreign seas. But then he must be able to pull himself to shore, and look back calmly, objectively, on the waters that immersed him.'
Most important, he said, 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 Le Carre's novels, essentially craftsmen who find their side no less by his own account, the product of a `conventional, Waspish, preppy world' and was destined for a conventional career on Wall Street. He managed to escape this fate, he said, because he `lived in another world of my imagination.'
Archibald Bulloch Roosevelt Jr. was born in Boston on Feb. 18, 1918. He graduated from Groton School and then went to Harvard, where he graduated in the class of 1940. While an undergraduate, he was chosen as a Rhodes Scholar, but was not able to accept because of the outbreak of World War II in Europe. His first job was working for a newspaper in Seattle.
During the war, he became an Army intelligence officer. He accompanied U.S. troops in their landing in North Africa in 1942 and soon began to form views on the French colonial administration and the beginnings of Arab nationalism. Later in the war he was a military attache in Iraq and Iran.
In 1947, he joined the Central Intelligence Group, the immediate forerunner of the CIA. From 1947 to 1949, he served in Beirut. On that and on all of his subsequent assignments abroad, he was listed in official registers as a State Department official.
From 1949 to 1951, he was in New York as head of the Near East section of the Voice of America. From 1951 to 1953, he was station chief in Istanbul. From 1953 to 1958, he had several jobs at CIA headquarters in Washington. In 1958, he was made CIA station chief in Spain. From 1962 to 1966 he held the same job in London. He finished his career in Washington.
Through it all he pursued an interest in languages. A Latin and Greek scholar when he was a boy, he had a speaking or reading knowledge of perhaps 20 languages, including French, Spanish, German, Russian, Arabic, Hebrew, Swahili and Uzbek.
Mr. Roosevelt's marriage to the former Katherine W. Tweed ended in divorce.
In addition to Selwa Roosevelt, to whom he was married for 40 years, survivors include a son by his first marriage, Tweed Roosevelt of Boston, and two grandchildren.