Washington,Mar 4: Elizabeth “Betty” McIntosh, an American spy girl who was stationed in India for a few years from 1943 and helped spread disinformation that would undermine Japanese troops, has turned 100.
CIA Director John Brennan hosted Betty, who was stationed in India as an officer of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), which is CIA’s predecessor, at the spy agency’s headquarters yesterday to celebrate her 100th birthday.
“CIA is honoured to count Betty McIntosh as one of its alumnae, and we are very fortunate to have her at the Agency today. Her many achievements and storied life are an inspiration to all women and particularly so to those of CIA,” Brennan said.
“It is fitting that Women’s History Month begins each year on March 1, the birthday of Betty McIntosh,” he said.
A native of Washington, DC, Betty was working as a reporter for the Scripps Howard news service in Hawaii when Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Betty covered the event first-hand and soon left Hawaii to work in the Scripps Howard bureau in Washington, DC.
Fluent in Japanese, she was recruited in 1943 to join the OSS, the CIA’s predecessor.
After completing her OSS training, Betty was one of the few women assigned to OSS Morale Operations.
“Betty’s first assignment was in the summer of 1943. After completing her OSS training, she was sent to India,” CIA said in a blog post.
While in India, Betty helped produce false news reports, radio messages, and other propaganda designed to spread disinformation that would undermine Japanese troops, who were already demoralised and retreating from their defeat by Allied forces on the Imphal Plain.
This included efforts to distribute forged Japanese government orders to Japanese troops in Burma.
“The Japanese government told their soldiers that if they surrendered they would lose their birth right and would not be able to go back to Japan,” explained Betty during talks with CIA Historians on May 2, 1997 and June 24, 2002.
“So consequently very few Japanese surrendered. They cost us a great deal because they fought to the very end and many of our people, too, were killed. So the idea was to try to get them to give up without feeling that they had lost their identity,” she said.