The CIA Woman With an Oswald Tape
With female spies in vogue, Ann Goodpasture deserves recognition
Female American spies are in vogue.
The director of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence is Avril Haines, the first woman to hold the job. The previous director of the CIA was Gina Haspel, the first woman to sit in the director’s chair and the first woman (as far as we know) to run a torture center. Haspel, in turn, appointed Beth Kimber, the chief of the operations division (a.k.a. the clandestine service), the first woman to hold that job.
The forgotten careers of the first female spies after World War II have been excavated by historians keen to give credit where credit is overdue. The cryptologists of the National Security Agency who broke the KGB’s communication code in the 1950s, were mostly female, says Robert L. Benson, a retired NSA historian. In a new book, "Wise Gals: The Spies Who Built the CIA and Changed the Future of Espionage" Nathalia Holt traces the lives and careers of four trailblazing women who served in the early days of the CIA.
The Agency even recently erected a statue of Harriet Tubman, honoring the abolitionist hero for her espionage on behalf of the Union Army during the Civil War. (The reviews were mixed. The World Socialist Web Site decried “the seamless marriage of identity politics and imperialism.”)
But Anne Goodpasture, one of the most accomplished female spies of the 1960s, has been overlooked, perhaps because of her role in the shadows of the JFK assassination story. Goodpasture deserves better because she knew better than almost anyone in the world how the Agency surveilled Lee Harvey Oswald six weeks before he allegedly killed President Kennedy. (Oswald denied killing Kennedy and was killed in police custody.)
But the Oswald story was just one among many extraordinary chapters in a thirty year career in which Goodpasture handled diverse espionage assignments with what one superior described as “mastery over her craft.”
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