Her undercover life
It’s been nearly 35 years since Alexandra Stowasser turned on the television to see members of her covert operations team being arrested. She had just returned home from her undercover job as an advertising executive for the Canberra Times and was wandering through the lounge, waiting to catch the 6pm news. Stowasser was in limbo.
Her boss at the Canberra Times hadn’t granted her leave to head off to the Airforce Reserve – a cover for her top secret training – as it was coming up to Christmas.
Because of that, Stowasser wasn’t able to attend her team’s last training exercise of the year.
The intensive exercises were used to train a top-secret covert operations team run by the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), the local equivalent of the CIA.
The team was comprised of highly-trained civilians who understood that their actions, should they be caught, would be denied by government.
‘‘We were not secret agents as such, but we were there to support Secret Service agents overseas and other things, which was never totally defined,’’ Stowasser said.
‘‘[Covert operation teams] have been around for a long time, but this is the first time Australia put together a team like this.’’
Stowasser was recruited because of her Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) intelligence work.