People who live to be 100 years old are few and far between, and even fewer of them are OSS (Office of Strategic Services) and CIA veterans who have made substantial contributions to our country’s security. The CIA honored one such veteran on her hundredth birthday. It is fitting that Elizabeth “Betty” Peet Mcintosh turned 100 on March 1, 2015—the beginning of Women’s History Month.
CIA director John Brennan hosted Betty at CIA Headquarters and revisited her remarkable career. She was in Hawaii at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack and covered the event firsthand as a Scripps Howard News Service reporter. After this, she moved to the Washington, DC bureau where the OSS recruited her in 1943.
Being fluent in Japanese made her a valuable asset for the country’s first intelligence agency. Betty’s first assignment was in the OSS Morale Operations—a working group that spread disinformation to undermine the morale of the troops fighting for Japan.
With her background in journalism, Betty was perfect for creating false news reports, radio messages, and documents for this purpose. She worked out of China, Burma, and India. Among her many exploits in World War II, she helped the OSS make and distribute fake Japanese government orders that purported to allow the Japanese troops in Burma to surrender under certain conditions.
Once the war ended, she worked for a variety of key agencies such as the State Department, Voice of America, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and even the UN. Betty joined the CIA in 1958 and worked for the agency until she retired in 1973.
She is a prolific author and wrote two books about the OSS. One was her 1947 memoir called Undercover Girl. Published in 1998, Sisterhood of Spies: The Women of the OSS described the adventures of the women of the OSS who served during World War II. Betty also wrote two children’s books in the 1950s.