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US Counterintelligence Failure: Nada Nadim Prouty Case Study

Updated on December 30, 2014

Overview

Nada Nadim Prouty was an FBI agent and then later in her career she became a CIA officer. She held a top-secret security clearance and performed numerous overseas missions, “penetrating terrorist organizations” (CBS News). In 2007, Prouty pleaded guilty to fraudulently acquiring U.S. citizenship and conspiracy against the United States. Allowing Prouty to gain employment with two high-level federal agencies within the US is a grave counterintelligence failure. Prouty conducted several questionable activities that should have raised concern from her FBI and CIA employers. Our counterintelligence efforts need to be re-evaluated so our country can protect itself from future espionage activities.

Nada Nadim Prouty

Source
Geography of Lebanon
Geography of Lebanon | Source
Lebanon Hezbollah
Lebanon Hezbollah | Source

Critique of US Counterintelligence Failings

Nada Nadim Prouty, a Hezbollah follower, illegally extended her stay in the United States and used her fraudulent documents to gain employment with the FBI and CIA. She then used her position within the FBI and CIA to access sensitive information on her family and the Hezbollah terrorist organization. Nada Nadim Prouty, first arrived in the United States in 1989, using a temporary student visa. Once her yearlong visa expired, the Immigration and Naturalization Service should have investigated into her case further. She was an illegal immigrant for approximately two months before she entered into her fraudulent marriage on August 9, 1990. From this point on, the Immigration and Naturalization Service should have closely examined the expiration of her student visa, her fake marriage, and the rest of the forged documents she submitted to become a U.S. citizen. If Immigration would have spoken to her more often or have done house visits to check in on her, she may have never gained employment as a federal agent. Immigration and Naturalization Service committed a major failure, allowing her to easily slip through the system.

Once Prouty became a Special Agent for the FBI, she obtained a security clearance and was chosen to investigate U.S. criminals abroad. To become an fbi Special Agent and obtain a security clearance, the candidate must go through an extensive background check. This background check should have brought to light her connections in Lebanon as well as her familial ties to Hezbollah. The process of granting a clearance requires that the person’s family and friends go through interviews to verify the candidate’s data and life history. The FBI should have noticed her familial connections with Lebanon and Hezbollah. Improving the background check process is a vital counterintelligence measure that should be extensive enough to keep radical followers from gaining employment with the FBI. Furthermore, when Prouty illegally accessed the FBI’s computerized database and searched for her family’s information and Hezbollah, she should have been caught by internal affairs or the counterintelligence section of the agency. The FBI needs to establish some form of computerized accountability when agents illegally access certain information. A measure that should be put in place is to establish a monitoring system that keeps track of suspicious or illegal log-ins or illegal access to information. If Prouty’s security incident’s would have been reported she would have been caught sooner or at least barred from seeking employment with another federal agency, the CIA. Similar to the FBI, the CIA failed to perform an extensive background check on Prouty and interview her family members for terrorist connections in Lebanon. The FBI and CIA also administer polygraph tests during the hiring process. If either of these agencies would have asked if she had any affiliation with a terrorist organization, she would have stopped. Additionally, the CIA should have looked into why she voluntarily left the FBI to join the CIA.

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Conclusive Remarks

The INS, ICE, FBI, and CIA contributed to the monumental failures that let Prouty initially become a U.S. citizen, which allowed her to gain employment with two federal agencies. If these four agencies had dug deeper into her U.S. citizenship, fraudulent marriage and paperwork as well as her family ties to Hezbollah, she would not have gained access to sensitive information. All of these agencies needed to investigate further into her life history, background, previous citizenship, and religious affiliations.


References

CBS News. The Case Against Nada Prouty.

Former CIA and FBI Employee Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy, Unauthorized Computer Access and Naturalization Fraud.

Department of Justice. Former Employee of CIA and FBI Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy, Unauthorized Computer Access and Naturalization Fraud, 2007.

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