Journalist spies lifted veil on Soviet Russia, 1920-21

The uneasy relationship between the American news media and American spy agencies can be traced to the early twentieth century, when the U.S. Army’s Military Intelligence Division dispatched agents posing as journalists to Russia following the Bolshevik Revolution.

This article explores three of those cases from 1920-21: Baltimore news reporter Marguerite Harrison, who was America’s first female foreign intelligence agent; Weston B. Estes, an agent who entered Soviet Russia under the cover of a newsman and cinematographer; and publisher and writer Albert Boni, who confessed to helping MID’s Berlin office obtain copies of counterfeit American money. Although Harrison, Estes, and Boni were captured, they nevertheless provided valuable information that set the precedent for future cooperation between journalists and the intelligence services.


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