Although I’ve written Invisible Women articles about American spies operating in the field (Martha Peterson and Elizabeth Bentley) during the Cold War in the U.S. and U.S.S.R., this is the first post about intelligence agents (not unlike those at Bletchley Park in WW 2) who were employed in America’s Cold War counterespionage unit. One of these women, Angeline Nanni worked with a team of women on the ultra secret Verona project to crack encrypted Soviet communications.
For 40 years beginning in 1945 Angeline Nanni and the Verona team broke encrypted Soviet messages in order to determine what Allied/U.S. information was being passed to the U.S.S.R. While doing so they learned a great deal about Soviet spy craft and uncovered well-known traitors such as Kim Philby (U.K. intelligence) and Donald Maclean (British diplomat) and German-born Klaus Fuchs. However, in some cases, the highly-classified Verona effort because it remained secret until the 1990s, made it impossible to prosecute traitors such as, Melita Norwood.
When the Verona project was declassified in 1995, the public point people were men and the public was not informed that the team at the heart of the cryptanalytic breakthroughs were women. It was women who made the mathematical calculations and who were actually cracking the encryptions in the counterespionage unit. This is another incident of women intelligence agents who made exceptional and extremely crucial contributions and who knew the most important secrets of the Cold War being left out of the historical record until just recently. Unfortunately, many of these women took their stories to the grave with them due to the lack of public knowledge and hence, interest about their exceptional capabilities.