The Women Spies of the CIA and Other Intelligence Agencies
Valerie Plame is my favorite female spy, well, the correct term is CIA “operative.” A spy is the person she recruits. Plame was fresh out of college, in her early 20’s, when she became the youngest recruit in the CIA’s 1985 class. One of her classmates, who was age 36 at the time, told me at an Association of Former Intelligence Officer’s (AFIO) luncheon that she scored highest of all in using the Russian AK-47 assault rifle.
Plame is one of many female spies and intelligence operatives who have proven their worth throughout the global intelligence community. For example, Israel’s Mossad employs many elite women, and Gail Foliard, one of the women suspected of killing Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai, follows a long line of Mossad female agents. In fact, the Mossad’s greatest female assassin was Sylvia Rafael, who brought down the masterminds behind the 1972 Olympic massacre.
Some say the highly trained female agents of Mossad leave their male compatriots in the dust (sorry guys). Five Mossad woman agents spoke about their movie-style lives in the dark, undercover world of deadly, very efficient femmes fatales. The Israeli publication Lady Globes did an interview with them, delving into a shadowy world where female wiles can be a significant advantage.
The theme of my January 5, 2016 Spy Agency Happenings! newsletter is dedicated to female spies. The newsletter has dozens of articles about American and foreign female spies, including the Israeli female secret agents portrayed in the Lady Globes periodical.
Closely following Valerie Plame, my second favorite female spy is Virginia Hall. She worked with Britain’s clandestine Special Operations Executive and the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in France during World War II. Many in the intelligence community believe she is the most famous female spy ever. Even though her life was one of espionage and danger, her name is not familiar to most people.
She ventured behind enemy lines to become one of the bravest Allied heroines of WWII. As part of Winston Churchill’s ‘Secret Army’, she was sent into occupied France to organize resistance efforts and to disrupt Nazi plans ‘by any means necessary’. When the war ended, she was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross- the first woman and the first civilian to receive this honor during World War II.
Virginia Hall also worked for America’s OSS during her exploits in Nazi Germany. Interestingly, the OSS, Office of Strategic Services, was established during World War II and was America’s first modern spy service. At its peak in late 1944, the agency had nearly 13,000 members and one out of every three was a woman.
At the Association of Former Intelligence Officer’s (AFIO) luncheon, which I mentioned previously, the CIA case officer who trained with Valerie Plame at “The Farm” told me how she later became the CIA operative who was outed as an undercover spy by top officials in George W. Bush’s administration in the early months of the Iraq War in 2003 (The Hollywood movie Fair Game portrayed her outing). He assured me that her life was not in danger when she returned to the U.S.
One of the female CIA operatives in my MISSION OF VENGEANCE spy thriller was modeled after Valerie Plame. Here’s a Snippet:
Snippet: CIA operative Ashley Murray sensed that the woman was not pregnant at all.
Her gut feeling was right. Suddenly, the pregnant woman ran towards the clubhouse, screaming “Allahu Akbar!” Murray was on her knees, a knife stuck out of her side. She fired her Glock 30. Two .45 caliber jacketed hollow points grazed her head, but the woman kept running, screaming “Allah Akbar!” while holding a detonator switch.
Murray kept firing and raised her left hand in a fist. The bomber’s head exploded, and her body crumpled onto the sand… the device detonated.
Even though the clubhouse was one-hundred feet away, the blast from twenty pounds of high-explosives blew open the locked entrance door and shattered the large windows overlooking the beach. Flying metal fragments burst through the walls, hitting several OAS members. Shrapnel flew in all directions. Murray had dropped to the ground while firing her Glock but Phillips remained kneeling so she could fire over her. The shock wave blew Corey off the front patio into a hedge. A large coconut palm he used to steady his weapon protected him from much of the shrapnel, save one large nail that hit his shoulder.
End of Snippet
Lastly, here’s an informative video of my favorite real-life CIA female operative, Valerie Plame- Ex-CIA Operative On NSA, Homeland.
Robert Morton is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO), enjoys writing about the U.S. Intelligence Community, and relishes traveling to the Florida Keys and Key West, the Bahamas and Caribbean. He combines both passions in his Corey Pearson- CIA Spymaster series. Check out his latest spy thriller: MISSION OF VENGEANCE.