By Nate Rawlings
January 23, 2014

In 1973, Otis Pike, a bow-tie-wearing New York Congressman from Long Island, took the floor of the House of Representatives to decry a bill giving flight pay to admirals and generals piloting desks at the Pentagon. Speaking with his arms outstretched, swaying like an airplane, Pike mocked the proposal, which was voted down. Two years later, Pike led a far more contentious charge. As head of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, he spearheaded the first congressional examination of secret dealings by the CIA, including illegal spying on Americans at home. During the combative hearings, Pike was “the model of a properly pugnacious public servant,” TIME wrote, “sharp-tongued and not easily intimidated.” Though the House voted to keep the Pike committee’s report secret and the body never gained the renown of the Senate’s Church committee, the report was leaked and eventually published in the Village Voice. Pike died on Jan. 20 at age 92.

–NATE RAWLINGS

Contact us at editors@time.com.

This appears in the February 03, 2014 issue of TIME.

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