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William Joseph Casey

Casey, William Joseph, 1913–87, American public official, b. New York City. After graduating from Fordham (B.S., 1934) he obtained a law degree from St. Johns Univ. (1937). During World War II he became an important official in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and helped supervise clandestine operations in Europe. After the war he became a successful tax lawyer. A conservative Republican, he held several high positions in the Nixon and Ford administrations, including chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (1973–74) and head of the Export-Import Bank (1975). In 1980 he served as chairman of President Reagan's campaign committee. Between 1981 and 1987, he served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), where he was responsible for an aggressive expansion of clandestine activities. He was one of the central figures in the complex sequence of covert activities known as the Iran-contra affair. On Dec. 15, 1986, shortly after the affair became public, Casey suffered a serious stroke. He died of brain cancer the next year without revealing the details of his involvement in the events.

See his The Secret War against Hitler (1988); biography by J. E. Persico (1990).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: U.S. History: Biographies


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