Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Spies Behind the Spies

Long before the planet went gaga over the film ARGO, I was fixated on Tony Mendez…

Antonio J. Mendez, a soft-spoken, nondescript, nice-guy operative — in the world of espionage, known to the head honchos of the CIA, and other world-class agencies, as "the Master of Disguise."

Tony, an undisputed genius, could create an entirely new identity for Anybody! Anywhere! Anytime!

Combining the cunning tricks of a magician with the analytical insight of an expert psychologist, he saved hundreds of men and women from death — or perhaps worse — by his talents.

He earned the CIA's Intelligence Star for planning the escape of The Famous 6 Americans from Tehran in 1980.

On the 50th Anniversary of the CIA, Tony was named one of the 50 all-time stars of the "spy trade" and is known to be one of the highest levels performers EVER in international espionage!

A former plumber and illustrator from Eureka, Nevada, Tony rose to be the Chief of Disguise of the CIA's technical services staff.

An expert in East Asian spycraft, Mendez masterminded much of the Cold War intrigue in Moscow, as a disguise specialist in the CIA Office of Technical Services. He also helped develop and deploy espionage gadgets — including a low-light camera used during the first moon landing and miniature lithium batteries that were the predecessors of batteries used in modern portable electronics.

Appointed Chief of their Graphics and Authoritative Division, he helped transform the identity of CIA field operations, by supplying them with high-level forged documentation for use in field missions.

Tony married his colleague of 27 years, Jonna Goeser, who was a camera expert and who also trained CIA officers in the use of Covert Technologies. They now live in Maryland.

After their retirement, the husband-and-wife team were called by the Agency to enter the lecture circuit and chronicle their undercover careers in places like Germany, India and Thailand, in an effort to "humanize" the secretive Agency.

Their book SPY DUST recounts their intelligence work in the USSR in the 1980s.

If you share my fascination with the spycraft of these two people, I suggest you read The Master of Disguise, by Tony Mendez and Spy Dust, by Antonio and Jonna Mendez.

Thelma Jacqueline Straw

P.S. I wonder if these two experts are doing any undercover work or advisory functions today, in this maelstrom of international spydom!!!


  1. I love this information Thelma! You come up with some great tidbits about the spy world. I'll certainly check these books out!!

  2. Nice of you to drop by, Margaret. Have a lovely week! tjs