How big a role did disgraced CIA officer have?

How big a role did disgraced CIA officer have?
How big a role did disgraced CIA officer have?

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By Andrea Mitchell and Robert Windrem
NBC News
November 14, 2007

There=E2=80=99s new information about the young Lebanese woman who pleaded 
guilty Tuesday to charges she lied about her background to get jobs at 
the FBI and CIA.

Current and former intelligence officials tell NBC News that Nada Nadim 
Prouty had a much bigger role than officials at the FBI and CIA first 
acknowledged. In fact, Prouty was assigned to the CIA=E2=80=99s most sensitive 
post, Baghdad, and participated in the debriefings of high-ranking al- 
Qaida detainees.

A former colleague called Prouty =E2=80=9Camong the best and the brightest=E2=80=9D CIA 
officers in Baghdad. She was so exceptional, agree officials of both 
agencies, the CIA recruited her from the FBI to work for the agency=E2=80=99s 
clandestine service at Langley, Va., in June 2003. She then went to Iraq 
for the agency to work with the U.S. military on the debriefings.

=E2=80=9CEarly on, she was an active agent in the debriefings,=E2=80=9D said one former 
intelligence official.  =E2=80=9CIt was more than translation.=E2=80=9D

On Tuesday, she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to illegally search FBI 
computers for classified information about Hezbollah and to 
naturalization fraud =E2=80=94 a sham marriage to a former husband just to 
become a U.S. citizen.  As the Justice Department noted, she needed to 
be a U.S. citizen to join the CIA and thus had defrauded the agency. 
(Prouty first came to the U.S. on a student visa in 1989 and after 
overstaying her visa paid an acquaintance in Detroit to marry her so she 
could get U.S. citizenship. She later divorced the man.)

Although no one claims Prouty worked for Hezbollah, her computer 
searches led U.S. officials to question her. She looked up files on her 
sister, Elfat El Aouar, and brother-in-law, Talal Khalil Chahine, both 
of whom attended a Hezbollah fundraiser in Lebanon =E2=80=94 alongside Hezbollah 
spiritual leader Sheikh Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, designated by the 
U.S. as a terrorist.

Chahine is currently a fugitive believed to be in Lebanon. He, along 
with Prouty=E2=80=99s sister and others, was charged in 2006 by the U.S. 
attorney in Detroit with tax evasion in connection with a scheme to 
conceal more than $20 million in cash received by La Shish restaurants 
in suburban Detroit and to route funds to persons in Lebanon with links 
to Hezbollah.

Moreover, as she was moving between agencies in 2003, Prouty accessed 
the FBI=E2=80=99s Automated Case Support system and obtained information on 
investigations into Hezbollah being conducted by the FBI=E2=80=99s Detroit Field 

National security experts say the combination of her being at one of the 
CIA=E2=80=99s most sensitive stations, working on some of the agencies' most 
sensitive cases, and having her relatives under investigation put her in 
a vulnerable position =E2=80=94 and make the potential damage she could have 
caused far greater than either the FBI or CIA has admitted.

Roger Cressey, an NBC News analyst and former deputy director of 
counterterrorism at the National Security Council, says it never should 
have happened.

=E2=80=9CThe issue is that she had access to very sensitive information 
regardless of where she was in the hierarchy,=E2=80=9D said Cressey. =E2=80=9CBecause 
she was able to interview high-value targets, that put her in a very 
unique position. So if she therefore shared that information, it could 
have cost major damage to our nation=E2=80=99s security.=E2=80=9D

A senior U.S. official familiar with the case says there is no evidence 
she was a spy and noted that the CIA and FBI have a good record in 
prosecuting spies, particularly in their own agencies. He says her role 
was limited.

=E2=80=9CThis is not John Dillinger or Reilly Ace of Spies,=E2=80=9D said the official. 
=E2=80=9CShe took an illegal shortcut to the American dream, then she made some 
inappropriate computer searches.  At this point, there is no reason to 
treat this as a counterintelligence case.  There is NO allegation she 
had ever ties to Hezbollah.  You can=E2=80=99t let suspicions get ahead of the 

Prouty has agreed to submit to lie detector tests as the CIA assesses 
the damage.

=C2=A9 2007 MSNBC Interactive

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