Arthur Herman has an interesting long essay in the latest Commentary about the history of critiques of the CIA. Along the way, he reminds us that the CIA has, as a rule, been run by the liberal establishment. I found this bit of note:
[William Casey] injected himself directly into the analysis process and did not hesitate to throw aside National Intelligence Estimates he felt did not fit with the facts (or, liberal critics claimed, with his own prejudices). This included the CIA's assessment of the condition of the Soviet economy. . . .
On October 27, 1980, Soviet émigré economist Igor Birman published a piece in the Washington Post stating that the CIA's current picture of the Soviet economy was far too optimistic. The Soviet economy was in a state of "crisis," Birman declared, while Russian living standards were "a fourth or even a fifth the American level." The CIA's standard view was that Soviet per capita GNP was roughly half that of the U.S.
Outside critics had often attacked the CIA's operational side but never its analysis, and certainly not from the political Right. However, Birman was joined by other experts--including Henry Rowen, the chair of the National Intelligence Council--and soon became Casey's favorite economist. In 1986, Casey sent President Reagan a memo stating that the Soviet economy was in far worse shape than his own agency was saying. That dovetailed with a growing consensus inside the Reagan administration that the Soviet economy was headed for collapse and that the CIA had gotten it wrong for years. . . .
The CIA's analysts insisted that the Soviet economy was about to expand and the following year stated that "the Soviet economy has made solid gains since 1960."
This reminds me of a pearl of wisdom from Paul Samuelson's economics textbook in 1989: "The Soviet economy is proof that . . . a socialist command economy can function and even thrive." And the Keynsians said that Casey was an ideologue!