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Women in Intel: “Spy Girl” Betty McIntosh

McIntosh's Morale Operations

“They taught us how to utilize material tailored for specific targets in the Far East. We had to learn to disseminate the material, a mix of truth and fantasy; we were taught how to get rumors started.”

~ Betty McIntosh on her time in OSS’s Morale Operations branch.

Elizabeth “Betty” McIntosh lived a storied, adventurous life. During WWII, she was one of the few women hired into the OSS Morale Operations (MO) branch, charged with creating rumors that our foreign adversaries would believe. In other words, so-called “black propaganda.”

Betty helped create false news reports, postcards, documents, and radio messages designed to spread disinformation to undermine Japanese troop morale. In one truly inexplicable incident, she created a script for a popular Chinese fortune teller to read on a radio station secretly run by the Allies that predicted “something awful” was about to happen in Japan. Her team had no inkling something bad was actually going to happen, but later that day, the US dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima.

When OSS was disbanded, Betty tried on a few different careers but eventually was convinced to return to a life in intelligence at CIA. She worked for the Agency until her retirement in 1973. As the author of several books, including “Sisterhood of Spies,” Betty made sure that the stories of the women of OSS and their daring adventures would never be forgotten.

Perhaps it’s fitting, then, that Women’s History Month begins each year on March 1st, the birthday of “Spy Girl” Betty McIntosh.

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Posted: Mar 19, 2019 11:25 AM
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2019 01:47 PM