Casey directed the successful presidential campaign of Ronald Reagan in 1980. After Reagan was elected president, he named Casey to the post of Director of Central Intelligence (DCI). During his tenure at the CIA, Casey played a large part in the shaping of Reagan's foreign-policy, particularly its approach to Soviet expansionism.
This period of the Cold War saw a ramping up of the Agency's anti-Soviet activities around the world. Casey was the principal architect of the arms-for-hostages deal that became known as the Iran-Contra affair. He also oversaw covert assistance to the mujahadeen resistance in Afghanistan, the Solidarity movement in Poland, and a number of coups and attempted coups in South- and Central America.