While the agencies charged with protecting our national security were maneuvering for access to your cell-phone bills, something was going on in their own damn office in Detroit:
A Lebanese immigrant, Nada Nadim Prouty…well, let the dry language of journalism tell the story. It makes it so much more amazing:
According to court records, Lebanese-born Prouty gained U.S. citizenship in 1994 through a fraudulent marriage, joined the FBI’s Washington Field Office as a special agent in 1999 and joined the CIA in June 2003.
Prouty is related to Talal Chahine, a former Metro Detroiter now on the lam in Lebanon. He’s under indictment for tax evasion on a rather breathtaking scale; he owned a chain of successful Middle Eastern restaurants called La Shish, and allegedly funneled a large chunk of his profits to Hezbollah back in the old country. And guess what Prouty used her FBI clearance for? To sneak a peek at the agency’s files on the very same outfit.
The Free Press wins understatement of the year honors for describing it as “an embarrassing breach of national security, and clarifies:
Although there is no evidence that Prouty was a Hizballah operative, the episode raised questions about how she cleared multiple federal background investigations to acquire U.S. citizenship and land jobs at two of the nation’s most sensitive intelligence agencies without someone discovering that she had engaged in marriage fraud to become a citizen.
We had a seminar speaker during my year in Ann Arbor, someone from law enforcement, who had a very low opinion of the FBI. I’m beginning to see why.
The La Shish chain is still open, operating under some sort of court-approved arrangement while its owner rediscovers his native tongue. I’d like to eat there, but if I did, the terrorists would win.
Both stories make for interesting, if jaw-dropping, reading. Never underestimate the value of a native Arab speaker who looks good in a pantsuit. Apparently she has the ability to cloud men’s minds.
John C said on November 14, 2007 at 8:52 am
When we first moved to Detroit, La Shish was one of our favorite restaurants. Great food. Everything fresh. We even had our son’s baptism dinner there, which was a bit odd – a bunch of Irish Catholics from New England, and Midwest Catholics from Indiana, in a Lebanese restaurant. But it was fun.
brian stouder said on November 14, 2007 at 9:00 am
Well, a question to ponder – why is all this coming out? The FBI (et al) could just as easily never have let such a ‘breach’ become public knowledge.
Indeed, if one wants to really learn about the rats in the sewers, then at some point you have to get in amongst them, and adopt a few to run with your own ratpack.
By way of saying – we heard a lot of the same criticism regarding the pre-9/11 intelligence failures, and (as The Looming Tower teaches us) the basic problem wasn’t that we were clueless, but instead that our different intelligence and enforcement arms had differing agendas (CIA = get amongst the rats and adopt a few; FBI = bag the rats and drag them out of their sewer and into a public courtroom…thus destroying the CIA networking efforts).
When the story blithely jumps from FBI to CIA, the red-flags immediately pop up
Danny said on November 14, 2007 at 9:29 am
Off topic, I think. I didn’t have time to read the post as I have no time the next few days for almost anything but work, but I wanted to let you know how blown away I am by my friend from high school who is serving in Iraq.
I organized a team to support him and his soldiers a couple of months ago. I started the ball rolling by buying about a $1200 worth of supplies (tuna, crackers, drink mix, etc.) and we packed and shipped 23 boxes of stuff to him.
Well, after a 12 hour work day, I get home last night and see a package from my friend. He and the soldiers had sent us a flag that was flown at their base, a certificate a validation, and a big “thank you” letter. Totally awesome.
So far, I have shown it to one co-worker who is part of our team here. She was overwhelmed and cried a little.
This weekend I attend my 25th year class reunion. My plan is to take a bunch of video and send it to my friend and to try to get a bunch of people at the reunion involved in supporting him.
alex said on November 14, 2007 at 9:33 am
A fraudulent marriage? No way. It took place between a male and a female so there’s no denying its legitimacy.
LA mary said on November 14, 2007 at 12:05 pm
Doncha just love high level incompetence?
nancy said on November 14, 2007 at 12:16 pm
Interesting question, Brian. I, too, was intrigued by the FBI/CIA convergence, but figured the need for security-clearance-holding fluent Arabic speakers post 9/11 may have obviated some of the usual caution.
But I remember when I was a kid, and an old boyfriend of my sister’s joined the Peace Corps. He listed my parents as a character reference, and two private investigators paid a call one night and talked to my parents for the better part of an hour, just making sure there were no skeletons in this young man’s closet — and this was the Peace Corps. You’d think the FB-freakin’-I could find a fraudulent marriage in an applicant’s background.
We talk a lot about dumb criminals, but I think a few smart ones could run the country better than what we have now.
Wait. They already are. < / snark >
LA mary said on November 14, 2007 at 12:24 pm
I remember a similar thing with a neighbor’s daughter who had applied for a job as a secretary with the FBI. The neighbors were questioned about her past, some on the phone, some in person.
brian stouder said on November 14, 2007 at 12:29 pm
Hah!! Score one for the proprietress!
Speaking of criminals-in-charge, I attended an interesting lecture last night at IPFW, by Samantha Power, about her Pulitzer Prize winning book A Problem From Hell (which I bought, and which has elbowed its way to the front of the “to read” pile. It has lots of 20th century history and analysis, and it is proving to be not just readable, but enthralling)
Despite being about worldwide genocide (by the criminals in charge in various regions) and the response to it by the United Nations and the United States, it was a genuinely lively and stimulating program….and she works for Senator Obama (which she pointed out a time or two, to great effect!) which made her prescriptions and observations all the more interesting.
Dorothy said on November 14, 2007 at 1:32 pm
My brother is a retired agent, but 30 some years ago when he was being considered for the FBI, I remember the whole freakin’ neighborhood was questioned about him.
Parson said on November 14, 2007 at 10:20 pm
Back when I went to ITT in Fort Wayne in the early 90’s, the CIA was recruiting people from the electronics classes (probably for wiretapping). Part of the application process was having to write some big essay on what it means to be a American or something like that. Just makes me wonder, I guess.
brian stouder said on November 15, 2007 at 9:20 am
Apparently she has the ability to cloud men’s minds.
every woman does
(more or less)