Sunday, June 06, 2010


Bush administration to Arab-Americans: spy for us, and after you give us the intelligence you collect, we'll play politics with your life

The Case Against Nada Prouty
Scott Pelley Investigates The Case Against The Former Terrorism Fighter; Was She A Patriot Or A Traitor?
March 28, 2010

Nada Prouty's identity was once a closely held national secret. She was an FBI agent, then a CIA officer with top security clearances who penetrated terrorist organizations overseas. Her fellow CIA officers say she risked her life often, volunteering for dangerous missions. And because she's originally from Lebanon, she speaks native Arabic, a rare skill for an American intelligence officer.

But Prouty's daring career was destroyed. In those years after 9/11 when rooting out terrorists at home was an obsession at the Justice Department, federal prosecutors launched investigations and even Prouty was accused of supporting terrorism. Was a traitor exposed? Or did America lose a patriot?...

Prouty's missions for the FBI and CIA read like a history of America's fight against terrorism. She investigated the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, the attack on Americans at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, and, in Pakistan, she interrogated a terrorist who killed 20 people on a Pan Am plane and got him to confess.

"Nothing prepares you to meet a terrorist, a real-life terrorist, someone who's killed Americans, someone who’s vowed to always kill Americans," Prouty explained.

Asked what happened to the terrorist she interrogated, Prouty told Pelley, "He's in a jail in Colorado, where he gets to see daylight one hour a day." ...

"She was absolutely dogged. She would never quit," Bob Grenier remembered. He met Prouty when he was CIA station chief in Islamabad, Pakistan.

He retired in 2006 as a 27-year veteran, who headed the CIA's Counter-Terrorism Center.

"She was involved in virtually all the high profile terrorism cases during those years," Grenier said...

Asked if she saved American lives, Grenier said, "I think that's fair to say."

But while Prouty was hunting terrorists overseas, an investigation began back home that would destroy her career. The Bush administration was working to break up terrorist financing. And by 2004, federal prosecutors in Detroit were looking at the large Arab-American population around Dearborn, Mich.

Suspicion fell on a Lebanese-American restaurant owner named Talal Chahine. And as it happened, Chahine was married to Prouty's sister. In 2005, FBI agents came to CIA headquarters to ask Prouty a few questions...

And, in fact, the investigation into whether she'd passed classified information turned up nothing. But prosecutors Eric Straus and Kenneth Chadwell kept digging and they stumbled on something that all those background investigations had missed or dismissed: it turned out that 18 years earlier, when she first came to the United States, Prouty had taken a fateful shortcut to citizenship.

She had arranged a sham marriage. "I understood it was wrong." ...

Under pressure, Prouty agreed to waive the 10-year statute of limitations on immigration fraud and plead guilty to two felonies related to the sham marriage. She also pled guilty to one misdemeanor count of unauthorized use of an FBI computer, a charge she now denies.

"I've made that mistake when I was a 19-year-old teenager. And I shouldn't have made it. And I own up to it. But I did not look into FBI ACS system without authorization. I did not mismanage or mishandle any classified information," she told Pelley.

Asked why she pled guilty to that charge when she now says it wasn't true, Prouty said, "I had to make a decision. I could not see our limited financial resources disappear in front of our own eyes."

"From attorney's fees that amounted in the hundreds of thousands of dollars," she added.

But pleading guilty wouldn't be the end of it: prosecutors didn't have the evidence to make a terrorism case in court so they made one in the media.

In a November 2007 press release the prosecutors said, "It's hard to imagine a greater threat" than someone like Nada Prouty. They said that she had "exploit[ed] her access to sensitive counter-terrorism intelligence."

And, later, the Detroit office boasted it had uncovered "the only known case of an illegal alien infiltrating U.S. intelligence agencies with potential espionage implications," as if Prouty had plotted from the age of 19 to infiltrate the CIA. All the worse, there it was, a word never uttered in court -- "espionage."

Prouty was branded a traitor in the national news media.

"My family was destroyed. Neighbors wouldn't talk to us,” Prouty recalled. “When my daughter would go out in the neighborhood, her friends would scatter away. They told her, 'We don't wanna talk to you 'cause your mommy is bad.’” ...

"One of the New York papers called you ‘Jihad Jane,’" Pelley remarked.

"That's the Jane that went to Iraq and put her life on the line," Prouty said.

Before she was sentenced, the CIA launched its own investigation to find out if Prouty was a Hezbollah spy. Bob Grenier, the CIA's former head of counterterrorism, told Pelley what the Agency found.

"There was a full investigation which included multiple polygraph examinations," he said. "She was completely exonerated." ...

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