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CIA Operative to Discuss ‘Argo’ Rescue
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Sunday, August 28, 2022
 

BY MARTHA WILLIAMS

Jonna Mendez, The Community Library’s current Hemingway Writer-In-Resident, will discuss her 27-year CIA career, including her tenure as the Chief of Disguise, during a free program at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 1, in the Library’s Lecture Hall.

 The event will focus on the film Argo, which is based on the book co-written by Jonna and her late husband Antonio J. Mendez.

The book and film recount the rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Tehran in 1980. The six Americans working for the government were not taken hostage when militants stormed the U.S. embassy in November 1979, holding 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.

Argo tells the story of how those six eventually got out of the country in an operation conceived and executed by the CIA’s operational mastermind, Antonio J. Mendez.

 During the event, Jonna Mendez will share clips from the film and recount the behind-the-scenes story of Argo--both the operation itself and the making of the movie. Register at www.comlib.org to save your seat. This event will be live and in-person only. Iconoclast Books will also be on hand with Mendez’s  books, and a book signing will follow the presentation.

 While in residency Jonna is at work on a new memoir about her career, including her work as a photographer, consultant and lecturer and her undercover work across Europe and the Far East. She was recruited into the CIA in 1966, joined the Office of Technical Services in the 1970s, and quickly became a Technical Operations Officer with a specialty in clandestine photography.

Her duties included the preparation of the CIA’s most highly placed foreign assets in the use of subminiature spy cameras and the processing of the intelligence gathered by them.

She later traveled through South and Southeast Asia as a generalist in Disguise, Identity Transformation and Clandestine Imaging. Upon returning to the States, she was assigned to Denied Area Operations for disguise, a role that took her to the most difficult and hostile operating areas of the world where she matched wits with the forces of the KGB in Moscow, the Stasi in East Germany and the Cuban DGI.

 She was later promoted to the Deputy Chief of Disguise Division and then Chief of Disguise. She retired from the government in 1993 and earned the CIA’s Intelligence Commendation Medal.

 In her retirement, Jonna has acted as a consultant to the U.S. intelligence community, lectured to World Affairs Councils and universities, and participated in several Discovery Channel programs on espionage. She is also a founding member of the Board of Advisors at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.

With Tony, she was the author of two more books, including Spy Dust, about their work against the Soviets in Moscow during the last decade of the Cold War. That book is now recommended reading for new recruits in the U.S. Intelligence Community agencies. The other is The Moscow Rules, about their experiences working for the CIA during the Cold War.

 

 

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