Aline Mosby, the daughter of an electrician, was born in Missoula, Montana on 27th July, 1922. Later her father opened a store selling electrical appliances but in 1932 established the KGVO Radio Station in Missoula.
Mosby attended the University of Montana where she studied journalism. After graduating in 1943 she began work for Time Magazine before moving to the United Press International (UPI) in Seattle. In 1946 she transferred to the Los Angeles office where she reported on the Hollywood film industry. Mosby was the first journalist to report on the Marilyn Monroe nude calendar. Later the actress thanked Mosby for helping her movie career.
Aline Mosby eventually moved to UPI's London bureau. In 1958 Mosby visited the Brussels Trade Exhibition. While in Brussels she met some Russians who encouraged her to visit the Soviet Union. Soon afterwards, Tom Curran, division manager of UPI asked her to go to Moscow. Curran told her: "Don't worry too much about writing about politics. What we want to find out about is what the people are like, what the people eat for breakfast, and how they live and so forth."
On 13th November, 1959, Mosby interviewed Lee Harvey Oswald after he had defected to the Soviet Union. Mosby later told a fellow journalist: "He (Oswald) struck me as being a rather mixed-up young man of not great intellectual capacity or training, and somebody that the Soviet Union wouldn't certainly be much interested in."
In 1961 Mosby went to work for UPI's Paris bureau. Two years later the Ford Foundation Scholarship Fund arranged for her to study the Chinese language. However, the Chinese government refused her a visa and so she stayed with UPI. After leaving Paris she worked for UPI in New York (1964-65), Moscow (1964-66), New York (1967-68), Vienna (1968-70) and Paris (1970-78). In 1979 UPI sent Mosby to China. After retiring from UPI in 1984, Mosby did freelance work for the The New York Times.
Aline Mosby died in August, 1998.
"She was quite a good-looking woman," Snyder remembers of Aline Mosby. "I saw her naked once."' That moment had been innocent on Snyder's part, for he had really had no choice in the matter. Under the circumstances, Mosby had probably been extremely happy to see Snyder. The attractive UPI reporter had made the mistake of getting involved with a young Soviet man who, Snyder believes, "was either KGB or had come under KGB control." The KGB was ever present in the lives of the American journalists in Moscow, always lurking in the background and constantly devising schemes to entrap and recruit them.
"Aline had met him downtown," Snyder recalls, "at the Aragvi Restaurant," a popular Georgian restaurant and hangout in Moscow. "He put a pill in her champagne, and the drink went to her head. She went outside to get air, and that is the last thing she remembers.
She passed out right there on the curb." Snyder was in his office when the Soviet Foreign Ministry called on the telephone. They explained there was an American who had gotten into trouble, and that the Moscow police had taken her to a vytrezvitel, which is Russian for a "sobering-up station."
"I went down there," Snyder says, "and they took me up to the women's ward. Aline was lying on a cot, and a big Soviet woman was standing there who looked more imposing than a German soldier from a World War Two movie." The large woman glared at Snyder and yanked away the blanket that had been covering Aline. "She had been stripped naked," Snyder recalls, and was still woozy from being drugged. The Soviet woman jerked Aline off the cot like a rag doll and shoved her into Snyder's arms. "You hold her," the woman ordered Snyder, who put one hand under each arm to balance Aline.
So there the American consul was, holding the naked Mosby in his arms. It was an unusual role for a diplomat, but he had no choice but to help as the Soviet woman, piece by piece, dressed the drugged American reporter. Mosby could not be accused of leading a dull life in Moscow. While she enjoyed the diplomats, defectors, and tourists she moved among in Moscow, Aline Mosby was not a CIA informant and had never applied to work for the Agency. The same was not true for another woman, Priscilla Johnson, the only journalist besides Aline Mosby who succeeded in getting an interview with Lee Harvey Oswald.
Aline Mosley: I went over to go to the Brussels Exhibition in '57 or '58, a big celebration, the big Brussels fair.
Kathleen Currie: The Brussels World's Fair?
Aline Mosley: Yes. When I was over there, I met some Russians, some Soviets who were there, and it was very, very helpful to meet people outside the Soviet Union. Otherwise, they're afraid that you've been sent to Moscow by the CIA or something, or the KGB. They were very helpful to me in Moscow when I got there. Then in Europe I still saw the UPI people, because they were all friends. Tom Curran, who was then division manager, asked me to go to Moscow. So then I went back to work at UPI. I was not working for UPI only about six months, something like that. Then I was working in the London bureau for six months taking Russian lessons and reading up and so forth.
Kathleen Currie: Were you taking Russian full time?
Aline Mosley: I remember every day. Not full time, because I was working in the bureau, but I was taking from an elderly woman who was an emigre. It must have been two hours a day, at least, very intense Russian lessons. Now, of course, in the media, they don't want anybody unless they really are Russian speakers, but in those days there weren't very many journalists who were Russian speakers.
While awaiting word of his acceptance into Russian society, Oswald gave two interviews to American journalists in Moscow. Priscilla Johnson would later testify that her interview with Oswald left her with the feeling that "the plight of the U.S. Negro brought him to the USSR."' This is a difficult thesis to reconcile, given Oswald's later relationships with Guy Banister et al. (hardly civil rights fanatics), Oswald's seeming absence of civil rights concerns in the United States (the "Clinton, Louisiana" posturing aside), and finally, what could Oswald possibly do about the plight of the U.S. Negro from far off Russia?
When Aline Mosby interviewed him, she indicated, "Beyond his brown eyes [emphasis added], I felt a certain coldness." She also indicated that some of Oswald's statements sounded rehearsed (a claim that others would make), and she told of Oswald's boast that he saved the $1,500 necessary for the trip. She concluded that she considered defectors to fall generally within one of two categories, but "Oswald appeared to be a one-man third category." Indeed.
Both journalists tended to agree that Oswald was overplaying his "defector" role and that the Soviets wouldn't buy it. Oswald, however, had to go through the ritual, as he had to know, or have been taught, that the Soviets were listening.
To reinforce his credentials, Oswald staged a performance for the benefit of consuls Snyder and McVickar at the U.S. embassy in Moscow, conveniently attempting to renounce his citizenship at a time when the embassy was closed. Documents from this event suggest Oswald would offer secrets, or "has offered"' secrets to the Russians.
Kathleen Currie: You covered some of these American dissidents?
Aline Mosby: Lee Harvey Oswald - I guess you must have seen that in my book. I just happened to be at the American Embassy one day checking around, which we did to find out if there was anything going on that we should know about, such as some important Americans coming to Moscow that we could interview, or any sort of a story. Just part of the beat was to drop [in] now and then at the American Embassy. We would go there often to eat in the PX, because we could get a good meal there, could get a hamburger.
I guess I was in the visa passport department or something, to find out if some Americans were coming in that we should be covering. Somebody I knew there said that this American had come in and turned in his passport and said he didn't want it anymore, he was going to stay in the Soviet Union. I said, "My God! This has never happened before." They gave me his name and they said that he was staying at the Metropole Hotel.
So I called him up and said I was with United Press and I wanted to come over and talk to him. He didn't want anybody to come at first. He said no at first. I can't remember how I talked him into it. Anyway, he said I could come over, so I went over to the Metropole Hotel and interviewed him. We passed a story on him. There was censorship then. I guess they didn't care about that. There was nothing there that the Russians would object to, and that was quite a big story. It was quite a scoop.
Kathleen Currie: How did he strike you?
Aline Mosby: After I'd been with him just a short period of time, he struck me as being certainly not as if the head of the Los Alamos Laboratory or something defected, or who was a serious intellectual of obvious stature and solidity, that the Russians would snap him up and it would be really somebody. He struck me as being a rather mixed-up young man of not great intellectual capacity or training, and somebody that the Soviet Union wouldn't certainly be much interested in. But he had this cover of conceit that - oh, that they were just going to welcome him and welcome him into the hierarchy, that he'd be having lunch with all the top leaders, Khrushchev or whoever was in power then, and would be given a dacha and a big apartment and a car or something. I couldn't imagine that.
Anyway, I went back to the office and filed a story. I was very proud of my scoop. But he called me up after the other journalists got call-backs. They started yelling at him and chasing him around and everything, and he was very upset that I had written something. He said, "I let you come to see me because you were a woman, so I thought that you'd be understanding." And I felt sort of sorry for him.