The Women Spies

Yesterday Today (photo:

How the American intelligence community got smart...

Before she started cooking in style, Julia Child spied for the U.S. military during World War II.  So did Marlene Dietrich. Their names and 24,000 others were declassified this month, sixty years after the OSS - Office of Strategic Services - was replaced by the CIA.  Today, Valerie Plame and other female spies appear to be coming out of the woodwork, thanks in part to a class action suit filed back in 1992. Lucky for us, the new breed of Jane Bond is not nearly so hush-hush as the dames of old. Here's a closer look at some of the women who have kept this country safe.

August 20, 2008


Back in 1942, the Nazis were digging in across Europe and Northern Africa when the United States entered World War II. The Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor, and the fledgling superpower was just getting up to speed after more than a decade-long economic malaise. To insure success for the war effort, Franklin Delano Roosevelt established the nation’s first spy agency, the Office for Strategic Services. Its recruiters dispersed among the Ivy League colleges to snag young academics specializing in foreign languages and geography. And an impressive number of women responded to the call. 

From the civil service sector, O.S.S. Director “Wild Bill” Donovan tapped experienced New Deal administrators to set up the agency's infrastructure and logistics.  As mundane as that sounds, the nuts and bolts had to be assembled quickly and at the same time function as efficiently as possible, since many covert lives were already at risk behind enemy lines.  Mreover, Roosevelt believed the intelligence operation was indispensable in preventing massive human casualties in the field.  

O.S.S. women hunkered down alongside their male counterparts in war zones with surprisingly little friction.  Even more remarkable, a handful of them actually parachuted into enemy territory, assuming control of sabotage operations as well as tracking enemy troop movements.

In fact, when the Nazis later named the saboteur responsible for wreaking the most tactical damage on their occupation of France, it was not the real-life Hungarian double agent on which British author Ian Fleming based his famous character James Bond. Instead, the Germans identified an American woman with an artificial leg - Virginia Hall. 

Of course, little of this unusual history ever made its way into newsreels or war documentaries in the decades following World War II.  Julia Child, an OSS agent stationed in China and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), went on to write her cookbooks and host a long-running television program without ever disclosing her previous occupation.  German-born actress Marlene Dietrich also spent several nimble-footed years behind enemy lines. However, she's remembered nowadays as the eccentric recluse who hid from the public. 

For many Americans, the outing of CIA officer of Valerie Plame by the Bush Administration in 2003 provide the first real glimpse of an actual woman spy. Before that time, the only other image they'd seen was of Agent Ninety-Nine, played by Barbara Feldon in the popular television series Get Smart.

So here's a closer look at some of the women who've spied for our nation...

  Barbara Feldon Mary McCarthy

Spy business not all fun and games

A veteran intelligence analyst with the National Security Agency, Mary McCarthy, was accused of exposing the Bush Administration’s warrantless surveillance program and secret prisons overseas to the Washington Post in 2006.   While reporter Dana Priest won a Pulitzer Prize for her investigative articles about the program, and NSA chief General Michael Hayden, who oversaw unlawful activity, got promoted to CIA director, McCarthy lost both her job and her retirement pension after 20years working in the intelligence community.  She has always maintained that the Bush Administratrion fingered the wrong whistleblower.

According to a spate of books published in recent years, for decades following the end of World War II an old boys’ network within the American intelligence community circulated the myth that women were too easily flustered to serve as operations or case officers, as U.S. spies are nowadays called. According to Melissa Mahle, a former CIA station chief, although women comprised 40% of the CIA’s workforce in 1991, only 17% of operations officers were women.  Of those, less than 1 percent had made the rank of Senior Intelligence Service Officer.  (More about Mahle below.)

This unacceptable state of affairs came to a head in 1992, when 250 female employees filed a class action charging sex discrimination in hiring and promotions.   For the next three years, the agency dragged its feet, but eventually caved in 1995, during the Clinton Administration, and settled the case out of court in.  (According to Mahle and other insiders, Clinton fought with CIA administrators over direction and staffing through both of his terms in office.) About a million dollars in back pay was awarded in the settlement - only about a thousand dollars per affected employee, but 25 promotions were also approved and the Directorate of Operations pledged to hire and promote more female officers in the future. Under CIA Director George Tenet, the doors swung open and did finally achieve a measure of workforce diversity previously unknown in the cloak and dagger sector.

In a separate lawsuit, Jamaica station chief Janet Brookner won a $400,000 settlement after the agency carried out a series of reprisals against her when she reprimanded her deputy chief for beating his wife.  According to Brookner, CIA higher-ups circulated false rumors that she sexually harassed male employees and regularly showed up to work with “no visually perceptible underwear”. 

By some coincidence, it was Brookner who first alerted the brass about an incompetent station officer named Aldrich Ames.  Ames had suffered from alcoholism and psychological problems following a divorce, leading Brookner to press the administrators to fire him. They agency took no action for nine years.

In 1994, the CIA arrested Ames for selling top-secret information to the Soviets, including entire rosters of its overseas informants.  Many assets were killed as a consequence. The KGB turned others into double agents, undermining the CIA’s capacity to collect reliable intelligence for much of the 1990s. Besides Ames, three other high-profile traitors in the ranks were exposed - none of them women.

The low morale and compromised situation of the agency would have lasting consequences  A top staffer in the CIA’s Near East Division, Melissa Mahle lost her own long and exasperating battle with intelligence officials at the NSA when she asked them to let her “snatch” Khalid Sheikh Muhammad off the streets of Qatar in 1996.   Wanted in connection with the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, the al-Qaida terrorist had been spotted in the Arab nation.

Unlike the more controversial policy of “rendition”, in which CIA operatives kidnap suspected terrorists and transport them to countries where torture is practiced, Mahle's suggestion fell under a more quasi-legal mandate, an executive order signed by President Clinton. It authorized the CIA to employ back-door tactics if going through regular channels jeopardized the success of the mission.

Inexplicably, the NSA rejected Mahle’s proposal and implemented an FBI plan to formally ask the government of Qatar to arrest and extradite the terrorist.  No one knows who tipped off Muhammad, but he promptly disappeared from the radar and would not re-emerge until 2001, after the 9/11 attacks he is believed to have masterminded. Muhammad is now incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay, according to Pentagon officials.       

   Julia Child   Virginia Hall    

More shots from the past

Former OSS officer Elizabeth McIntosh was stationed in the western hills of China during World War II.  In 1994, on the 50th anniversary of D-Day, she introduced President Clinton at a ceremonial laying of a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  While standing beside fifteen fellow female OSS officers that day, McIntosh got the idea to chronicle of the experiences of women agents during the war.  The result was her book, Sisterhood of Spies, published in 1999.

Among the covert luminaries described in the book is Jean Wallace, the daughter of Roosevelt’s vice-president, Henry Wallace, who worked in the O.S.S. Washington headquarters. There she catalogued and forwarded the high-value raw intelligence arriving daily in dusty satchels sent from Europe. On one occasion she opened a pouch and found the pistol and holster that belonged to Mussolini. 

Margaret Gribbs worked as OSS Director Donovan’s senior secretary.  One of Gribbs’ associates related a story to McIntosh about how “Maggie” would arrive in the cafeteria on her breaks, always rattling off an unrelenting to-do list. 

“The Message Center wants a girl math shark," she was heard to groan one day.  Research and Analysis wants an expert on the Kachins and their tribal life styles; a colonel in Africa wired for a combination secretary-seamstress to sew agents’ clothes so they’ll look ‘of the country’ and not off a Brooks Brothers rack.  Visual Presentation wants an artist for our London war room.  Cartography wants a girl with steady hands to retrace lines on captured maps.  And M.O. (Morale Operations),” she added,  “just called in for a lady Vari’Typer.’ What, may I ask, is a Vari’Typer?’”

The so-called Morale Operations division of the OSS represented the war effort’s propaganda arm.  Here women writers, foreign speakers, educators or those who simply had a flare for the dramatic were recruited to write or broadcast disinformation that was transmitted abroad.  The idea was to cool the heels of enemy combatants by encouraging them to quit the battlefield.  One such operation, Project Marigold, incorporated two radio stations, one in New York and another at 432 Post Street in San Francisco. 

According to Sisterhood of Spies, broadcasts made from the latter office could be heard in the Far East, with the aid of a 50,000 watt transmitter.  OSS employees Dorothy Ogata and Misui Iwamatsu took turns reading fake letters from Japanese soldiers on the front lines and their wives back home.  Four P.O.W.’s lived at the Post Street location, helping to produce the show.

Of course, the real action at the OSS took place on its clandestine assignments. Agents parachuted from airplanes down into enemy territory and coordinated activities with the underground resistance operations.  Of the 38 American women dropped from airplanes into the line of fire, Virginia Hall wasn’t one of them.  Because of her artificial leg, she had to be delivered to her job site by a British torpedo boat. 

Born in 1906, Hall studied abroad and in 1931 took a job as a clerk at the American Embassy in Warsaw.  During a hunting trip in Turkey, a shotgun slipped from her hands and she shot herself in the leg.  When gangrene seeped in, the limb had to be amputated.  As a result, Hall’s application to become a career foreign service officer was declined.   

Yet “the Limping Lady”, as she would come to be called, resided in Paris on the day the war broke out.  She volunteered for the French Ambulance Service until Germany occupied France, then moved to London, where she worked for the U.S. embassy in London as a code clerk.  Because she could speak French and knew the terrain well, British Special Operations recruited her to return to France and work undercover.  Out of an apartment in Lyons, Hall began planning train derailments and other sabotage missions in collaboration with the French underground.  Her crews also smuggled American airmen and escaped P.O.W.’s  back to England. 

There's no documented evidence that Hall ever became flustered while on assignment. To the contrary, after three years on the job, the Nazis got serious about hunting her down and began circulating a sketch provided by French double agents.  “The woman who limps is one of the most dangerous allied agents in France,” the Gestapo orders read.  “We must find and destroy her.” 

Hall managed to escape the dragnet closing around her by crossing the Pyrenees, artificial leg and all. She was arrested in Spain, but only for traveling without papers.  Jailed for the minor crime, the prostitute with whom she shared a cell eventually informed the U.S. Consular of her whereabouts, and she was promptly released. 

Hall no sooner got back to London after that harrowing ordeal than the British requested she return to France.  They didn’t have to ask twice.  Between July and August 1944, as allied troops amassed in preparation for the D-Day invasion, the Limping Lady was back behind enemy lines, transmitting at least 37 messages from the attic of a local police chief’s home.  She was among the first to report that the German General Staff was relocating from Lyon to Le Puy.  Her teams also destroyed bridges, downed telephone lines and took more than 500 prisoners before the occupation of France finally ended. 

And Hall was just getting warmed up.  Scheduled to receive the Distinguished Service Cross by President Truman – the only civilian woman to be so honored –she declined the invitation to go to the White House, concerned that any publicity might compromise her cover.  Instead, Wild Bill Donovan pinned the medal on her chest at OSS Headquarters.  Soon after she explained to her superiors that she was “still operational and most anxious to get busy.”   

With the dissolution the OSS in 1945, Hall began work for the new Central Intelligence Agency, which stationed her in Far East for the next decade.  

Melissa Mahle with Arafat

Coordinating a presidential visit and having a baby at the same time

A summa cum laud graduate of U.C. Berkeley’s Near Eastern Studies department, in 1985, Melissa Mahle went abroad that year to volunteer at an archaeological dig in northern Israel.  Standing in a trench, surrounded by the ruins of antiquity, each day she looked up and watched Israeli aircraft strafe past overhead on their way to attack Hezbollah insurgents in Lebanon.  

In her 2004 book, Denial and Deception:  An Insider’s View of the CIA from Iran-Contra to 9/11, Mahle explains that one day she was assigned a new bunkmate at the site, a Frenchwoman named Frederique.   Although Frederique had herself volunteered to participate in the dig, she seemed to take no particular interest in the project.

A few weeks later the secretive bunkmate vanished and Israeli intelligence agents descended on the site, questioning Mahle and others about her.  Christine Gabon -the woman’s real name - was actually a French secret service agent sent to Auckland, New Zealand to infiltrate the local chapter of Greenpeace.  Gabon obtained the travel itinerary for the Rainbow Warrior, which was planning to disrupt French nuclear testing at the Moruroa atoll in the South Pacific in the coming week.  She passed the information along to her superiors, then fled to Israel to avoid any repercussions.   And there were plenty of those.  When French commandoes blew up the Greenpeace ship on September 10, 1985, a crew photographer, Fernando Peireira, died in the explosion.

Hardly a glowing introduction to the life of a government spy, but Mahle got hooked on the profession all the same, and responded to a CIA recruitment poster while attending graduate school in Sacramento.  Fluent in Arabic, Mahle was deployed back to the Middle East a few years later.  There she distinguished herself as a competent recruiter of “assets” for the agency. She was subsequently promoted, eventually landing the assignment to track down an alleged al-Qaida operative, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad. 

An individual fitting his description had been spotted in Qatar, and the agency believed him to be one of the planners of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.  The way Mahle explains it Denial and Deception, when the FBI found out about the sighting, “the Legat based in Rome moved in and tried to take over the operation without concern for CIA equities on the ground or Qatari political tendencies.”

Still, Mahle expected the National Security Agency to approve her plan to snatch Muhammad directly, given Qatar’s sympathetic relations with with Islamic fundamentalists. As mentioned earlier, the scheme to apprehend Muhammad through diplomatic channels failed miserably, and it was finally Pakistan (according to the Pentagon account) that bagged Muhmmad after the World Trade Towers disintegrated. 

Following the debacle in Qatar, Mahle was promoted to CIA Station Chief in Jerusalem, and in 1998, coordinated security arrangements for President Clinton’s historic visit to the region to meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials.  A logistical nightmare at best, the visit proved all the more challenging when Mahle checked into a hospital delivery room to give birth to a baby girl just six days before the President arrived.  Back on job within 24 hours, she wryly notes in her book, “The CIA does not offer maternity leave”.

Her book ends with its own bit of intrigue as the high-level intelligence officer Mahle was asked to resign her position and leave the agency in 2002 for reasons she said she couldn't divulge.  In fact, much of the original manuscript was blacked out by CIA censors. Interestingly, the sections that detail various Clinton Administration blunders remained intact. 

Lindsay Moran

The Perils of CIA Boot Camp

 The daughter of a naval architect, Lindsay Moran was living in San Francisco when she applied for a job at the Central Intelligence Agency in 1997.  One of the questions asked during her lie detector test tripped her up.

“Since the age of eighteen have you ever committed murder, rape, or theft of items worth over 200 U.S. dollars?”

Moran conceded that maybe she had smoked pot more times than she had admitted in an earlier question, but that she hadn’t done committed murder, rape or theft.  The CIA officer administering the test told her to wait and left the room.

“While she was gone, I stared at the wall and wondered how I had gotten myself into this mess,” Moran recalls in her book Blowing My Cover – My Life as a CIA Spy, released in 2004.  “What if they didn’t believe me and then turned me over to the Feds?!  I thought about spending the rest of my life behind bars for some unknown crime that I didn’t commit.”

The accusation of wrongdoing turned out to be a ruse, part of the testing process, and Moran eventually got hired by the CIA.  The rest of her juicy memoir offers a rare look at the lighter side of one of the most feared institutions in the world today.  The Fullbright scholar details how she survived “The Farm” - the agency’s secret training camp in the woods - then a desk assignment where she functioned as a virtual pimp for a CIA station chief in Central Asia - and then a stint in the Balkans, her entry point into the dangerous world of foreign espionage. 

During her initial training at the Langley CIA headquarters, Moran stumbled upon the agency mystique regarding differences between male and female agents.  “Two robotic-looking men and one Stepford Wife-ish woman peppered their seminar with many woeful tales about lonely C.I.A. women who had fallen prey to romantic overtures of duplicitous foreign men,” she recalled.  “’Were not going to monitor your partners so long as they’re American citizens… But you will want to be mindful of your reputation and how it can impact your career.’”

Contrast this with what the men were told, Moran writes. “’Prostitutes do not have to be reported,’ one of the robotrons announced munificently…  Ostensibly, a male case officer could routinely frequent the same whorehouse, as long as he alternated his whores.”

Moran trained as a desk officer for Kazakhstan.   One day, the CIA station chief in that country asked her to set up an itinerary for members of the Kazakh intelligence service who would be visiting Washington with their wives.  Describing herself as a cross between a girl Friday and a pimp, Moran was instructed to make sure she included trips to “tittie bars” for the foreign agents. 

The visit apparently went off without a hitch, as attested to in an email sent by the station chief to her boss. “He reported that the Kazakhs got drunk and ate big steaks and enjoyed countless taxpayer-funded lap dances while their oblivious wives indulged themselves in the hotel hot tub and relished mountains of clothes they purchased each day from the Gap.”  The chief added ended the missive with a recommendation for Moran.  “The trip was a raging success… due in no small part to the efforts of your diligent and able new trainee.  It goes without saying that she has a promising future in our organization.”

However, Moran found out that the meat and potatoes of CIA training were served up at a place called “The Farm”. At the secret boot camp, scenarios are played out that approximate the different kinds of scrapes a CIA officer might get him or herself into while on the time clock.  In one exercise, Moran was blindfolded and driven from one roll-play scenario to another along an isolated road.  Each time the blindfold came off, she took over in the driver's seat and was then stopped by CIA personnel impersonating foreign border guards or mercenaries.

During one of these scripted ambushes, she writes, “a new gang of baton-brandishing thugs emerged from the darkness and commenced the now-hackneyed beat of the car and shrieking obscenities.  One of them even had an AK-47, which he shot off merrily into the air…  The Farm, it occurred to me, was all part of an elaborate game for men who’d never really grown up.  And the world of espionage, I thought warily, might well be just a global playing field of this little boys’ game."

The narrative continued: “This time, I discerned that I was surrounded on all sides except in front, where two parked sedans formed a barricade. One of the attackers had somehow managed to get the back door open, and was crawling in when I thrust my foot down on the accelerator..  I headed straight for the weakest point in the barrier…   Sure enough, I broke through to the other side, turning briefly to see the vehicles through which I’d just smashed….  I pushed down the gas pedal as far as it would go and barreled through the woods, the instructor whooping alongside of me, “You go, girl!” 

Operations officers are also required to learn the ropes of parachuting, perhaps a throwback to OSS days.  “Perched in the open doorway of the Twin Otter aircraft, hands braced and ready to go, all I could think about was how unprepared I was to die…  I also conjectured as to how the CIA, and for that matter my parents, would explain my demise – the result of jumping out of an airplane over an undisclosed location – when everyone thought I was doing administrative work at some government annex.”

The simulated P.O.W. experience, however, would prove an even tougher challenge than dropping out of the sky.  After spending several days in the wilderness, her group was captured and held in concrete cells the size of a broom closet.  The level of physical abuse inflicted during the captivity was not only intense, but in the eyes of many trainees, downright abusive. One woman in Moran's group documented her injuries afterward and threaten legal action. The agency responded by eliminating the exercise from future training - a move that benefitted both male and female agents.

Working as an operation officer does have its upside, Moran notes in her book.  Once deployed, the agency provides its operations officers with all-terrain SUV’s  and first class seating on air travel, unlike the foreign service officers who work for the State Department. Besides that, Moran claims that with the danger and hardship pay, she and other CIA operations officers were able to pay back their college loans in pretty short order.   The actual work of recruiting assets is typically undertaken in the elite centers of metropolitan capitols, where the high-level government personnel are normally found, so it's a cushy life for the most part.

From a philosophical perspective, Moran writes that women are uniquely suited for undercover trolling, simply by nature of their upbringing.  “We knew how to flatter, how to cajole, how to manipulate, how to hide our true feelings, how to internalize our misgivings, and most of all, how to keep a relationship secret.”  Even arranging chance meetings or bumping into someone presented no serious obstacle to her.   “Our instructors told us that we should first monitor the target’s movements and patters so we could place ourselves in his path.  I don’t know a single woman who has not been using this technique for years.”

Yet she also argues that the clandestine techniques that worked during the Cold War are outdated now, and should be overhauled to take into account current political realities. In a speech delivered at the University of Virginia a few years ago, Moran said women CIA officers might accomplish more by concentrating their energies on Arab women, who have a vested interest in seeing al-Qaida and extremism eliminated.

“Osama bin Laden and his cohorts are hot hanging out on the diplomatic cocktail circuit, the first arena in which CIA spies in training are still instructed and expected to trawl,” she said.  “They believe passionately, zealously in what they do.  They cannot be swayed by CIA money or case officers’ sweet talk.”   

In regard to interacting with potential male assets, Arab or otherwise, there’s also an advantage to deploying women officers, according to Moran.  “Foreign men are not likely to turn down your invitation to coffee, lunch or dinner.   And few people would question the liason,” she argues.  “ I used to feel sorry for a male colleague who, in case he got caught, would spend hours anguishing over and developing bizarre cover stories to explain what he and his agent were doing in a hotel room together.”

While deployed in the Balkans, the biggest problem Moran had to deal with was that of agents coming on to her.  She recounted a story told her at the Farm about another woman officer, who was stationed in the Middle East.  The officer called her supervisor in the middle of the night and asked him to come to the hotel where she was meeting a male foreign agent right away.  “When he arrived, the case officer was being chased around the bed by a sheik.”  Another officer said she was propositioned repeatedly to marry her agent. “When she protested that he was already married, the agent assured her that he had checked it out with his first wife, who had no objections.”

Nora Slatkin Jennifer Harbury

The Jennifer Harbury Scandal

When John Deutch was appointed to head the CIA by President Clinton in 1995, he brought with him a female colleague from the Defense Department to serve as the agency’s new executive director.   It was the first time a woman had ever held the post.  She wouldn't stay long.  Both she and Deutch became personas non grata almost the first moment they set foot in the building.

Nora Slatkin began her career in Washington in 1980’s working as an analyst for the Congressional Budget Office.  With a degree from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, she became the protege of House Armed Services Committee chair Les Aspin. Aspin was tapped by President Clinton during his first term to serve as secretary of defense.   At the Pentagon, Slatkin worked under Deutch, overseeing a $26 billion budget for the Navy.  According to an article about her appearing in BusinessWeek, her probing nature and an Alpha personality would eventually earn her the nickname “Tora Nora” when she took the helm at the CIA. 

But it was a human rights p.r. nightmare that would distinguish her tenure at the agency, whose record on that score had never been an exemplary one.  Back in 1992, a mild-mannered, Harvard-educated lawyer named Jennifer Harbury began a hunger strike in Guatemala City after the State Department refused to help her find her husband, Efrain Bamaca Velasquez, a top leader in Guatemala’s Mayan resistance movement.  Harbury knew her husband was being held incommunicado and tortured by one Colonel Alpirez, a senior official in the Guatemalan Army.  Alpirez also happened to be a well-paid CIA asset. Evidently, his duties included torturing Velasquez and an American innkeeper, Michael DeVine. 

Both men died in custody, leading Harbury to take her case to Washington.  She didn't receive something less that a warm welcome from the Department of State, so began a daily ritual of picketing the U.S. Capitol. Officials in the Clinton Administration at first dismissed her as simply a distraught widow.

She persisted, however, and by 1995, thousands of supporters had joined her vigil, attracting coverage from media and a slough of in-depth reporting by the New York Times and other press outlets.  At last, President Clinton instructed CIA director Deutch to clean house at the agency and punish all those responsible.

According to BusinessWeek, the agency’s inspector general furnished Slatkin with a report that charged some two dozen employees with lying to investigators about the CIA’s relationship with Colonel Alpirez, who was a graduate of the U.S. Army's School of the Americas at Ft. Benning, in Georgia.  Described in the New York Times as a “murdering spy”, Alpirez collected checks from the CIA for about five years while participating in the persecution and genocide of thousands of Mayan Indians whom the United States claimed were waging a "Marxist" insurrection in the country.   

Acting on Deutch’s orders, Slatkin reprimanded seven station officers and dismissed two senior officials at CIA headquarters in Langley.  In Denial and Deception, Mahle writes that on the day the two officials were escorted from the building, the CIA’s Directorate of Operations “literally rose in defiance.  Officers lined the halls, waiting to shake the hands of the departing officers, praising their commitment to the mission of the CIA…  Deutch’s orders for dispersal were ignored.” 

Despised and at times heckled by his own subordinates after the firings, Deutch resigned in 1996 and was almost immediately charged by his detractors with keeping unauthorized classified data on his home laptop.  The agency later charged Slatkin with obstructing the investigation into Deutch’s wrongdoing.  Slatkin joined Deutch in making a speedy getaway - as far as they could get from Langley, Virginia. Both found new, higher-paying jobs with Citibank, a development that stimulated chatter on many right-wing blogs.   Some observers suggested that since the bank has contracts with the CIA to launder money and facilitate transactions for friendly drug cartels, that somehow the two former officials were betraying agency secrets in order to help the bank get a leg up on future contract bids.   

When George Bush was elected in 2000, one of the two fired operations officers returned to work at Langley as an independent contractor Both officers were honored as heroes at a dinner.

For her part, Harbury continued to organize protests against CIA involvement in torture and the school in Fort Benning.  In the wake of the Abu Ghraib prison, she wrote in a commentary published in Newsday in 2005.  It read in part:

“Throughout Latin America, secretly held prisoners were subjected to raging dogs, excruciating positions, simulated drownings, long-term sleep and food deprivation, blasting noises and terrifying threats.

“U.S. responsibility was hardly limited to funding and training military death squads. In many cases, U.S. intelligence agents visited cells, observed battered prisoners and gave advice or asked questions. Instead of insisting on humane treatment, these agents simply left the detainees to their fates… These practices have been developed through the decades. The iconic photograph of the Abu Ghraib detainee, hooded and wired and standing on a small box, depicts a position known to intelligence officials as ‘The Vietnam.’”)

For further information:

Valerie Plame's Sixty Minutes report

Julia Child: The OSS Years

National Women’s History Museum - Spies

Lindsay Moran's speech at the Univ. of Virginia

Jennifer Harbury's case before the U.S. Supreme Court headlines02/0319-05.htm


A Short Course in How the CIA Works

 - Rosemary Regello

Copyright 2008