Bill Casey: 'forceful' CIA chief

William J. Casey often comes across in public as a gruff, low-key, and sometimes bumbling lawyer. But the new director of the US Central Intelligence Agency is a much more sophisticated and well-rounded person than his rugged New York accent and frequently casual manner would lead some people to believe.

A vocarious reader, Mr. Casey has written a book on where and how the American Revolution was fought. He is also the author of books on taxes and real estate. His writing and work as a tax consultant helped make him a millionaire.

Among those who know him, Casey has a reputation for forcefulness that is belied by his sometimes offhand manner and a tendency to mumble. A standard joke about Casey is that his mumbling makes it so hard to understand him that no scrambling devices will be required to keep his telephone conversations secret.

Casey's background in intelligence work is considerable. During World War II , as a 32-year-old Navy lieutenant and chief of secret intelligence for Western Europe in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), Casey was in charge of dropping agents into Nazi Germany. In his book, "Piercing the Reich," Joseph E. Persico says Casey's mission required a relatively young military officer to deal on an equal footing with generals and admirals. Believing that the rank of civilian would better serve Casey, his superiors put him on inactive duty and sent him out to buy some appropriate gray business suits.

Mr. Persico describes Casey as a man with "an analytical mind, tenacious will , and a capacity to generate high morale among his staff.

"He delegated authority easily to trusted subordinates and set a simple standard -- results," says Persico. "He had no patience with the well- born effete who flocked to the OSS, people he dubbed the 'white shoe boys.'"

In the 1970s, Casey served on a commission to recommend improvements in the conduct of American foreign policy and as a member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.

Casey has also served as president of the Export-Import Bank, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and undersecretary of state for economic affairs.

His appointment comes at a critical moment in the CIA's history. There is considerable support within the GOP for an increase in secret CIA operations abroad.

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