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Casey at the CIA

In chapter 2 of Dick Clarke’s Against All Enemies, he describes Bill Casey’s role at CIA in supplying Stinger missiles to the Afghan resistance during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. But it reminded me of my tour in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) before Clarke was there. I worked on National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) 11-12-80 “Prospects for Soviet Military Technology and R&D” which has since been almost entirely declassified. I was concerned that this NIE tended to make the Soviets look too powerful, and was not an accurate depiction of their military technology and R&D. I was surprised to find that then Secretary of State George Shultz shared that opinion of the intelligence produced by Casey’s CIA. What was happening then was not unlike what happened with the CIA’s intelligence on Iraq prior to the Iraq war, but Shultz was aware of it and took account of it better than his successors did.

In his memoir, Turmoil and Triumph, Secretary Shultz wrote that he was displeased by the way that Casey cooked intelligence to reflect his personal views. Shultz wrote:

I was also increasingly uneasy about CIA director Bill Casey. He had very strong policy positions, which were reflected in his intelligence briefings. He claimed he was objective. But his views were so strong and so ideological that they inevitably colored his selection and assessment of materials. I could not rely on what he said, nor could I accept without question the objectivity of the “intelligence” that he put out, especially in policy-sensitive areas. (p. 691)

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