William J. Casey

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Bill Casey
William J. Casey, Director of Central Intelligence.jpg
Director of Central Intelligence
In office
January 28, 1981 – January 29, 1987
PresidentRonald Reagan
DeputyFrank Carlucci
Bobby Ray Inman
John N. McMahon
Robert Gates
Preceded byStansfield Turner
Succeeded byWilliam H. Webster
Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment
In office
February 2, 1973 – March 14, 1974
PresidentRichard Nixon
Preceded byThomas C. Mann
Succeeded byCharles W. Robinson
Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission
In office
April 14, 1971 – February 2, 1973
PresidentRichard Nixon
Preceded byHamer H. Budge
Succeeded byG. Bradford Cook
Personal details
William Joseph Casey

(1913-03-13)March 13, 1913
New York City, New York, U.S.
DiedMay 6, 1987(1987-05-06) (aged 74)
Roslyn Harbor, New York, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
EducationFordham University (BS)
St. John's University, New York (LLB)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
UnitUnited States Naval Reserve
Battles/warsWorld War II

William Joseph Casey (March 13, 1913 – May 6, 1987) was the Director of Central Intelligence from 1981 to 1987. In this capacity he oversaw the entire United States Intelligence Community and personally directed the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Life and career[edit]

A native of Elmhurst, Queens, New York, Casey graduated from Fordham University in 1934. He completed graduate work at the Catholic University of America before earning an LL.B. from St. John's University School of Law in 1937. Following his admission to the bar, he was a partner in the New York–based Buckner, Casey, Doran and Siegel from 1938 to 1942. Concurrently, as chairman of the board of editors of the Research Institute of America (1938–1949),[1] Casey initially conceptualized the tax shelter and "explained to businessmen how little they need[ed] to do in order to stay on the right side of New Deal regulatory legislation."[2]

During World War II, he worked for the Office of Strategic Services, where he became head of its Secret Intelligence Branch in Europe.[3] He served in the United States Naval Reserve until December 1944 before remaining in his OSS position as a civilian until his resignation in September 1945; as an officer, he attained the rank of lieutenant and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious achievement.

Following the dissolution of the OSS in September 1945, Casey returned to his legal and business ventures. After serving as a special counsel to the United States Senate (1947–1948) and associate general counsel to the Point Four Program (1948),[1] Casey founded the Institute for Business Planning in 1950; there, he amassed much of his early wealth (compounded by investments) by writing several data-driven publications on business law.[4] He was a lecturer in tax law at the New York University School of Law from 1948 to 1962.[1] From 1957 to 1971, he was a partner at Hall, Casey, Dickler & Howley, a New York corporate law firm, under the auspices of founding partner and prominent Republican politician Leonard W. Hall.[1] He ran as a Republican for New York's 3rd congressional district in 1966, but was defeated in the primary by former Congressman Steven Derounian.[5]

He served in the Nixon administration as the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission from 1971 to 1973;[6] this position led to his being called as a prosecution witness against former Attorney General John N. Mitchell and former Commerce Secretary Maurice Stans in an influence-peddling case stemming from international financier Robert Vesco's $200,000 contribution to the Nixon reelection campaign.[7] He then served as Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (1973-1974) and chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (1974–1976). During this era, he was also a member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (1975–1976) and of counsel to Rogers & Wells (1976–1981). With Antony Fisher, he co-founded the Manhattan Institute in 1978. He is the father-in-law of Owen Smith, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Institute of World Politics and Professor Emeritus at Long Island University.[8]

Director of Central Intelligence[edit]

As campaign manager of Ronald Reagan's successful presidential campaign in 1980, Casey helped to broker Reagan's unlikely alliance with vice presidential nominee George H. W. Bush.[9] He then served on the transition team following the election. After Reagan took office, Reagan named Casey to the post of Director of Central Intelligence.[10] Outgoing Director Stansfield Turner characterized the appointment as the "Resurrection of Wild Bill," referring to Bill Donovan, the brilliant and eccentric head of OSS in World War II whom Casey greatly admired.[11] Despite Casey's provenance in the Intelligence Community, the position was not his first choice; according to Rhoda Koenig, he only agreed to take the appointment after being assured that "he could have a hand in shaping foreign policy rather than simply reporting the data on which it was based."[2]

Ronald Reagan used prominent Catholics in his government to brief Pope John Paul II of developments in the Cold War. Casey would fly secretly to Rome in a windowless C-141 black jet and "be taken undercover to the Vatican.[12]

Casey oversaw the re-expansion of the Intelligence Community to funding and human resource levels greater than those existing before the preceding Carter Administration; in particular, he increased levels within the CIA. During his tenure, post-Watergate and Church Committee restrictions were controversially lifted on the use of the CIA to directly and covertly influence the internal and foreign affairs of countries relevant to American policy.[citation needed]

This period of the Cold War saw an increase in the Agency's global, anti-Soviet activities, which started under the Carter Doctrine in late 1980.

Iran–Contra affair[edit]

The day before Casey was scheduled to testify before Congress related to his knowledge of the Iran–Contra affair, Casey suffered two seizures and was hospitalized. Three days later, Casey underwent surgery for a previously undiagnosed brain tumor.[3]

In a 1987 book, Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA 1981–1987, Washington Post reporter and biographer Bob Woodward, who had interviewed Casey on a number of occasions for the biography, said that he had gained entry into Casey's hospital room for a final, four-minute encounter—a claim which was met with disbelief in many quarters as well as an adamant denial from Casey's wife, Sofia. According to Woodward, when Casey was asked if he knew about the diversion of funds to the Nicaraguan Contras, "His head jerked up hard. He stared, and finally nodded yes."[13] Independent Counsel, Lawrence Walsh wrote: "Independent Counsel obtained no documentary evidence showing Casey knew about or approved the diversion. The only direct testimony linking Casey to early knowledge of the diversion came from [Oliver] North."[14]

Personal life[edit]

Casey, a Catholic, was a member of the Knights of Malta.[15]


Casey died of a brain tumor on May 6, 1987 at the age of 74. His Requiem Mass was said by Fr. Daniel Fagan, then pastor of St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Roslyn, New York. It was attended by President Reagan and the First Lady. Casey is buried in the Cemetery of the Holy Rood in Westbury, New York. He was survived by his wife, the former Sophia Kurz (d. 2000), and his daughter, Bernadette Casey Smith.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d http://search.marquiswhoswho.com/profile/100002210454
  2. ^ a b "Basket Casey". New York Magazine. October 15, 1990 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ a b Pace, Eric (May 7, 1987). "Obituary of Mr William Casey". New York Times. Mr. Casey, after serving as chief of secret intelligence in Europe for the Office of Strategic Services in World War II,
  4. ^ http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/kt1s20357r/entire_text/
  5. ^ Wolfgang Saxon (April 20, 2007). "Steven B. Derounian, 89, Judge and Nassau Ex-Congressman, Dies". New York Times.
  6. ^ Nomination of William J. Casey: Hearings, Ninety-second Congress, first session, on the nomination of William J. Casey to be a member of the Securities and Exchange Commission. February 10 and March 9, 1971.
  7. ^ Woodward, Bob (1987). VEIL: The Secret Wars of the CIA 1981-1987. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 51.
  8. ^ http://www.iwp.edu/about/page/board-of-trustees
  9. ^ Pace, Eric (May 7, 1987). "William Casey, Ex-C.I.A. Head, Is Dead At 74".
  10. ^ Nomination of William J. Casey: Hearing Before the Select Committee on Intelligence, of the United States Senate, Ninety-seventh Congress, First Session, on Nomination of William J. Casey, to be Director of Central Intelligence, Tuesday, January 13, 1981, Volume 4.
  11. ^ Burn Before Reading, Stansfield Turner, Hyperion, 2005, first page of chapter on Ronald Reagan
  12. ^ Officials say pope, Reagan shared Cold War data, but lacked alliance, Catholic News Service, Nov-17-2004 Archived 2013-01-18 at Archive.is
  13. ^ "Did A Dead Man Tell No Tales?" by Richard Zoglin, Time, October 12, 1987
  14. ^ https://fas.org/irp/offdocs/walsh/chap_15.htm
  15. ^ Phelan, Matthew (2011-02-28) Seymour Hersh and the men who want him committed Archived 2011-03-02 at the Wayback Machine., Salon.com
  16. ^ "On October 5, 2000, of Roslyn Harbor. Beloved wife of the late William J. Casey, former Director of Central Intelligence. Loving mother of Bernadette Casey Smith". The New York Times. October 9, 2000.

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Hamer H. Budge
Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission
Succeeded by
G. Bradford Cook
Preceded by
Stansfield Turner
Director of Central Intelligence
Succeeded by
William H. Webster
Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas C. Mann
Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment
Succeeded by
Charles W. Robinson