Category Archives: security

obama issues new interrogation directive

Interrogation Techniques and Interrogation-Related Treatment. 

Effective immediately, an individual in the custody or under the effective control of an officer, employee, or other agent of the United States Government, or detained within a facility owned, operated, or controlled by a department or agency of the United States, in any armed conflict, shall not be subjected to any interrogation technique or approach, or any treatment related to interrogation, that is not authorized by and listed in Army Field Manual 2 22.3 (Manual).  Interrogation techniques, approaches, and treatments described in the Manual shall be implemented strictly in accord with the principles, processes, conditions, and limitations the Manual prescribes.  Where processes required by the Manual, such as a requirement of approval by specified Department of Defense officials, are inapposite to a department or an agency other than the Department of Defense, such a department or agency shall use processes that are substantially equivalent to the processes the Manual prescribes for the Department of Defense.  Nothing in this section shall preclude the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or other Federal law enforcement agencies, from continuing to use authorized, non-coercive techniques of interrogation that are designed to elicit voluntary statements and do not involve the use of force, threats, or promises.

Source:  White House Briefing


u.s.-iraq security talks hit dead end

Iraq PM: Security deal talks at ‘dead end’

AP News

Jun 13, 2008 08:20 EST

Iraq’s prime minister said Friday that talks with the U.S. on proposals for a long-term security pact have reached an impasse over objections that Iraq’s sovereignty is at stake, but held out hope that negotiators could still reach a compromise plan.

In his strongest comments yet on the debate, Nouri al-Maliki echoed concern by Iraqi lawmakers that the U.S. proposals would give Washington too much political and military leverage on Iraqi affairs.

“The first drafts presented left us at a dead end and deadlock,” he told reporters in Amman, Jordan. “So, we left these first drafts and the negotiations will continue with new ideas until the sides reach a formula that preserves Iraq’s sovereignty.”

The security agreement would provide a legal basis for the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq after the U.N. mandate expires at the end of this year. Failure to strike a deal would leave the future of the American military presence here to the next administration.

U.S. negotiators offered new proposals this week after Iraqi lawmakers expressed outrage over the direction of the negotiations, claiming that accepting the U.S. position would cement American military, political and economic domination of this country.

“Any agreement that infringes on Iraq’s sovereignty and its components will be dismissed and will not be acceptable,” he added, promising any deal would be presented to Iraq’s parliament for final approval.

“It is a negotiation process that will continue until we reach a common ground that is acceptable by the Iraqi and the other sides,” al-Maliki said. “So, I see no reason to be worried about the possibility that Iraq will be chained by agreements. The Iraqi politicians are aware of the importance of sovereignty.”

Al-Maliki’s remarks reflected deep misgivings about the deal, which also has been denounced by Tehran. The Iraqi premier, a Shiite, is close to the predominantly Shiite Iran.

But a senior government adviser, Yassin Majid, sought to temper the comments, saying a preliminary draft had been rejected but there were “some alternative ideas still on the negotiating table” that would be presented at an upcoming meeting.

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad stressed the pact was important for Iraq’s security.

“U.S. discussions with the government of Iraq on arrangements for a long-term strategic partnership and security relationship continue,” embassy spokeswoman Mirembe Nantongo said. “Those discussions are based on the fundamental principal of U.S recognition of and respect for Iraq’s sovereignty.”

“We remain hopeful, as do our Iraqi government partners, regarding a successful conclusion to these negotiations,” she added in an e-mailed statement.

The mounting criticism has raised doubt that a deal could be reached before the U.S. presidential election in November. The issue also has taken on importance among Iraq’s fractured political parties as they prepare for provincial elections expected in the fall.

An aide to Iraq’s pre-eminent Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani urged negotiators to protect the national interest during a Friday sermon in the holy city of Karbala.

“Iraq’s sovereignty and economy must be protected,” Ahmed al-Safi told worshippers. “The Iraqi negotiators must be up to the responsibility and should have a unified point of view.”

Hundreds of followers of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr also rallied against the agreement in Karbala.

And Sadrist cleric Sheik Dhia al-Shawki accused the United States of trying to cement its foothold in the Middle East, calling the agreement a dangerous project for Muslims.

“This agreement is a project of domination and control,” he said during his sermon in Baghdad’s Shiite stronghold of Sadr City. “The Americans are calling for it to protect their interests in the Middle East and keep security of Israel and make it the biggest power in the region.”

The outrage has fueled tensions that already were high amid clashes between U.S.-Iraqi forces and Shiite militia fighters.

Al-Sadr issued a new statement Friday calling for restraint in an apparent bid to exert control over his Mahdi Army militia fighters.

The cleric, who is believed to be in Iran, said the militia will continue to resist U.S.-led forces in Iraq but fighting should be limited to a select group.

“Weapons will be in the hands of this group exclusively and will only be directed at the occupier,” he said, using standard rhetoric for the American forces in Iraq in a statement read after Friday prayers in the southern city of Kufa.

He warned those who disobey will be “disowned by me.”

Continued fighting despite several cease-fires called by al-Sadr has raised questions about how much control he maintains over various militia factions.

U.S. troops killed five suspected Shiite gunmen and detained two others Friday during a raid near Hillah, about 60 miles south of Baghdad, the military said.

Iraqi police spokesman Capt. Muthanna Khalid said two civilians, including a woman, also were killed and three others wounded after they were caught in the crossfire.

The U.S. military said it had no reports of civilian casualties.


Associated Press writers Shafika Matter and Jamal Halaby in Amman, Jordan, and Hamid Ahmed and Bushra Juhi in Baghdad contributed to this report.

sadr city quiet

Iraqi government forces roll into the Shiite enclave of Sadr City in Baghdad Saturday, May 17, 2008. Sadr City appeared to be calm Saturday after weeks of bloody clashes between the US forces and Mahdi army fighters.
(AP Photo/Karim Kadim)



By LEE KEATH, Associated Press Writer Wed May 21, 4:31 PM ET

BAGHDAD – With not a Shiite fighter in sight, shoppers crowded through markets and cars packed the streets in Baghdad’s Sadr City on Wednesday — a positive early sign for Iraqi forces in their bid to impose control following a truce with the militia in its stronghold.

But while peace held in the sprawling slum a day after thousands of Iraqi troops rolled in, there were indications that militants were increasing their activity elsewhere. Skirmishes broke out in some nearby districts, including a clash that the U.S. military said killed 11 Shiite gunmen.

Support for anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is high among Sadr City’s 2.5 million residents, nearly half the population of Baghdad. Many see his Mahdi Army fighters as their protectors against Sunni insurgents and the distrusted American forces.

On Wednesday, however, people seemed relieved by the deployment and the calm it brought after weeks of clashes between his Mahdi Army fighters and allied U.S. and Iraqi troops on the edges of the district and in its southern sector.

Alaa Jassem, a day laborer, said the Iraqi troops were welcome — “they are our brothers, our sons, our friends” — but said the government “must be sincere in its promises and deliver aid to the city.”

The Iraqi government has said that as part of the deployment, it will direct funds for reconstruction in Sadr City, which is plagued by poor sewage systems that often overflow, drinking water shortages and poor garbage collection.

Success in Sadr City would be a major boost to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose government is seeking to show it can extend its authority over parts of the country long under the control of armed groups.

Much depends on the durability of a truce reached last week between the government and the Mahdi Army. None of the black-garbed fighters was seen on the streets Wednesday, and Sadrist Movement officials say they will stick by the cease-fire. But some have already complained about the unexpected size of the deployment, saying it could provoke the fighters, who still have their weapons.

Ten thousand Iraqi soldiers and police, backed with tanks, moved into Sadr City early Tuesday in the biggest government effort yet to impose control in the bastion of the Mahdi Army.

On Wednesday, Iraqi forces sought to solidify their hold on the district. The troops assumed a high profile in the streets but appeared to be working delicately to avoid provocations.

Soldiers set up more positions and patrols on the main avenues, sometimes stopping their vehicles to establish a temporary checkpoint — but searches of passers-by were rare. One checkpoint stood near the main office the Sadrist Movement, and a tank was positioned in a nearby square.

On Gayara Street, a main avenue running the length of Sadr City, cars, motorcycles and minibuses were jammed — a stark contrast from recent weeks — and soldiers joined police in directing traffic. Some residents brought water for soldiers, and a nearby market was bustling, with sellers announcing their prices on loudspeakers.

Hussein Qassim reopened his barbershop, located on the front line of the battles, for the first time since a government crackdown on militias in the southern city of Basra in early April triggered the uprising in Sadr City. Nearby buildings were pockmarked with bullet holes, and one was nearly demolished.

“Before the cease-fire, life was impossible,” Qassim said in his shop. “But now my customers have returned like normal.”

The shop is only yards away from a concrete wall that U.S. troops have been erecting across the width of Sadr City, dividing the southern sectors held by the Americans from the bulk of the district.

Residents, while welcoming the Iraqi forces, warned them not to move with a heavy hand.

“There’s one issue the government has to be careful about, and that’s searches of houses,” said Hussein Mohammed, a 35-year-old working at a clothes store near Gayara Street.

“The searches mustn’t be random. They have to follow rules and go by the agreement with the Sadrist Movement,” he said.

The Sadrists appear to have agreed to the truce to prevent further losses in fighting and under influence from Iran, which has ties both to them and to Shiite parties in al-Maliki’s government. Under the truce, the Mahdi Army keeps its light weapons, and the government promised to avoid calling in American troops to help secure the district. No U.S. forces were involved in Tuesday’s deployment.

But if the military acts too assertively to break what has been the Mahdi Army’s unquestioned control of Sadr City, it could spark retaliation. Iraqi military officials have said the next stages of the operation will bring moves to arrest some militants and searches for heavy weapons like mortars, heavy machine guns and explosives. The Mahdi Army insists it has no heavy weapons in the neighborhood.

While Sadr City itself has seen no violence since troops moved in, clashes involving Shiite militiamen erupted in several of their strongholds nearby in eastern Baghdad early Wednesday. In most, no casualties were reported.

But the U.S. military said it killed 11 Shiite gunmen in the nearby New Baghdad area. It said four heavily armed militants were killed while traveling in a sport utility vehicle, four others were killed because they engaged in suspicious behavior, and three were killed after they were spotted planting two separate roadside bombs.

Lt. Col. Steven Stover, a U.S. military spokesman, said U.S. troops were acting to stem “an increase in extremist activity” in the neighborhood “when everyone was focused on Sadr City.”

baghdad security chief abducted

Spokesman for Baghdad security plan abducted

A spokesman for the Baghdad security plan, Tahsin al-Sheikhly, was kidnapped from his Baghdad home by armed men on Thursday, security officials told AFP.

An Interior Ministry official told the Associated Press that three of spokesman’s bodyguards were killed. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to release the information.

The officials said Sheikhly, a Sunni who often appeared with U.S. military and embassy officials at news conferences to tout the successes of the crackdown that began in Baghdad and surrounding areas more than a year ago, was abducted from his home in Baghdad’s Al-Amin neighbourhood at around 2:30 pm (1130 GMT).

“Armed men stormed his home at a time when there were clashes in his neighbourhood,” a security official with the interior ministry said.

“They burnt his home and stole two cars and weapons before fleeing with him.”

mc cain lobbies for airbus

Mc cain advisers lobby for Airbus

By: Jim Kuhnhenn AP

Top current advisers to Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign last year lobbied for a European plane maker that beat Boeing to a $35 billion Air Force tanker contract, taking sides in a bidding fight that McCain has tried to referee for more than five years.

Two of the advisers gave up their lobbying work when they joined McCain’s campaign. A third, former Texas Rep. Tom Loeffler, lobbied for the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. while serving as McCain’s national finance chairman.

EADS is the parent company of Airbus, which teamed up with U.S.-based Northrop Grumman Corp. to win the lucrative aerial refueling contract on Feb. 29. Boeing Co. Chairman and CEO Jim McNerney said in a statement Monday that the Chicago-based aerospace company “found serious flaws in the process that we believe warrant appeal.”

McCain, the Republican presidential nominee in waiting, has been a key figure in the Pentagon’s yearslong attempt to complete a deal on the tanker. McCain helped block an earlier tanker contract with Boeing and prodded the Pentagon in 2006 to develop bidding procedures that did not exclude Airbus.

EADS retained Ogilvy Government Relations and The Loeffler Group to lobby for the tanker deal last year, months after McCain sent two letters urging the Defense Department to make sure the bidding proposals guaranteed competition.

“They never lobbied him related to the issues, and the letters went out before they were contracted” by EADS, McCain campaign spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker said Monday.

According to lobbying records filed with the Senate, Loeffler Group lobbyists on the project included Loeffler and Susan Nelson, who left the firm and is now the campaign’s finance director. Ogilvy lobbyist John Green, who was assigned the EADS work, recently took a leave of absence to volunteer for McCain as the campaign’s congressional liaison.

“The aesthetics are not good, especially since he is an advocate of reform and transparency,” said Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with the aerospace consulting firm Teal Group. “Boeing advocates are going to use this as ammunition.”

McCain, a longtime critic of influence peddling and special interest politics, has come under increased scrutiny as a presidential candidate, particularly because he has surrounded himself with advisers who are veteran Washington lobbyists. He has defended his inner circle and has emphatically denied reports last month in The New York Times and The Washington Post that suggested he helped the client of a lobbyist friend nine years ago.

He has also cast himself as a neutral watchdog in the Air Force tanker contract, one of the largest in decades.

“All I asked for in this situation was a fair competition,” he told reporters Monday at Lambert Field in St. Louis, home of a Boeing fighter jet plant.

On Friday, he defended his aggressive oversight: “I never weighed in for or against anybody that competed for the contract. All I asked for was a fair process. And the facts are that I never showed any bias in any way against anybody — except for the taxpayer.”

Last week, Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the EADS-Northrop Gruman plane was “clearly a better performer” than the one proposed by Boeing.

It is unclear what EADS hired the lobbyists to do. Loeffler and Airbus officials did not immediately respond to phone and e-mail messages left late Monday.

A Boeing spokesman declined to comment Monday on the links between McCain and lobbying efforts on behalf of EADS.

But Boeing supporters already have begun to accuse McCain of damaging Boeing’s chances by inserting himself into the tanker deal.

One of them, Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., said the field was “tilted to Airbus” because the Pentagon did not weigh European subsidies for Airbus in its deliberations — a decision he blamed on McCain. Everett, Wash., is where Boeing would perform much of the tanker work, and Dicks is a senior member of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.

In December 2006, just weeks before the Air Force was set to release its formal request for proposals, McCain wrote a letter to the incoming defense secretary, Robert Gates, warning that he was “troubled” by the Air Force’s draft request for bids.

The United States had filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization alleging that Airbus unfairly benefits from European subsidies. Airbus in turn argued that Boeing also receives government support, mostly as tax breaks.

Under the Air Force proposal, bidders would have been required to explain how financial penalties or other sanctions stemming from the subsidy dispute might affect their ability to execute the contract. The request was widely viewed as hurting the EADS-Northrop Grumman bid.

The proposed bid request “may risk eliminating competition before bids are submitted,” McCain wrote in a Dec. 1, 2006, letter to Gates. The Air Force changed the criteria four days later.

Dicks said the removal of the subsidy language was a “game-changer” that favored EADS over Boeing.

“The only reason that they could even bid a low price is because they received a subsidy,” Dicks said last week. “And Senator McCain jumped into this and said that (the Air Force) could not look at the subsidy issue — which I think is a big mistake, especially when the U.S. trade representative is bringing a case in the (World Trade Organization) on this very issue.”

EADS’ interest in the tanker deal is evident in the political contributions of its employees. From 2004 to 2006, donations by its employees jumped from $42,500 to $141,931, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. So far this election cycle, company employees have donated $120,350. Of that, McCain’s presidential campaign has received $14,000, the most of any other member of Congress this election cycle.

McCain prides himself in the role he played blocking an earlier version of the tanker deal that gave the contract to Boeing. As chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee and of an Armed Services subcommittee, McCain led an investigation that eventually helped kill that contract in 2004. A former Air Force official and a top Boeing executive both served time in prison, and the scandal led to the departure of Boeing’s chief executive and several top Air Force officials.

“I intervened in a process that was clearly corrupt,” McCain said Friday. “That’s why people went to jail.”

While McCain has praised Boeing for fixing its practices, his campaign said the experience prompted him to demand “a full, fair and open competition.” His letters — one to Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England in September 2006 and the other to Gates — were sent with that spirit in mind, Hazelbaker said Monday.

Once the rules were in place, Hazelbaker said, bidders submitted proposals, the Air Force reviewed them and the contract was awarded.

“That is a process that McCain, appropriately, had absolutely no role in,” she said.

Associated Press Writers Glen Johnson and Libby Quaid contributed to this article.

© 2008 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


it’s like being scalded with hot water, but the pain goes away in seconds…

Military heat ray gun zaps 60 Minutes reporter

David Edwards and Chris Tackett:

 “You have to feel the ray gun to believe it,” says 60 Minutes correspondent David Martin, speaking about a non-lethal weapon the Pentagon has developed, “and there’s only one way to do that.”

Martin was reportedly “zapped” 17 times for this piece, demonstrating the effects, as well as the possibility that a person could reduce the impact with shields of various materials.

“The gun is really an antenna which shoots out this very high-frequency radio beam that penetrates the skin to a depth of 1/64 of an inch, which is just deep enough to hit the nerves,” says Martin. “And it creates this instantaneous sensation of heat which makes anyone who is hit with it try to get out of the way as fast as possible.

“And the second you do get out of the way, the pain goes away,” Martin continued. “And the point is that this gun, which has a range of roughly half a mile – the exact range is classified – can make you stop whatever it is you’re doing.”

It seems that is the intended benefit of this weapon, which Martin says causes the sensation of being scalded with hot water.

He asks, “How many innocent lives have been lost by someone approaching a check-point and not heeding the warning signs that American soldiers were giving them …? Now you have this gun. If you shoot that ray gun at someone and they keep coming you can safely assume that they have evil intent and have cleared the way to use more lethal force, which would be their rifle.”

Graphic showing how heat-ray gun works
1 360-degree operation for maximum effect
Antenna, linked to transmitter unit, can be mounted on vehicle
Automatic target tracking
2 Antenna sealed against dust and can withstand bullet fire
3 Invisible beam of millimetre-wave energy can travel over 500m
4 Heat energy up to 54C (130F) penetrates less than 0.5mm of skin
Manufacturers say this avoids injury, although long-term effects are not

And from the BBC

The US military has given the first public display of what it says is a revolutionary heat-ray weapon to repel enemies or disperse hostile crowds.

Called the Active Denial System, it projects an invisible high energy beam that produces a sudden burning feeling.

Military officials, who say the gun is harmless, believe it could be used as a non-lethal way of making enemies surrender their weapons.

Officials said there was wide-ranging military interest in the technology.

How the heat-ray gun works

“This is a breakthrough technology that’s going to give our forces a capability they don’t now have,” defence official Theodore Barna told Reuters news agency.

“We expect the services to add it to their tool kit. And that could happen as early as 2010.”

‘Blast from an oven’

The prototype weapon was demonstrated at the Moody Air Force Base in Georgia.

A beam was fired from a large rectangular dish mounted on a Humvee vehicle.

The beam has a reach of up to 500m (550 yds), much further than existing non-lethal weapons like rubber bullets.

It can penetrate clothes, suddenly heating up the skin of anyone in its path to 50C.

But it penetrates the skin only to a tiny depth – enough to cause discomfort but no lasting harm, according to the military.

A Reuters journalist who volunteered to be shot with the beam described the sensation as similar to a blast from a very hot oven – too painful to bear without diving for cover.

Crowd control

Military officials said the weapon was one of the key technologies of the future.

“Non-lethal weapons are important for the escalation of force, especially in the environments our forces are operating in,” said Marine Col Kirk Hymes, director of the development programme.

The weapon could potentially be used for dispersing hostile crowds in conflict zones such as Iraq or Afghanistan.

It would mean that troops could take effective steps to move people along without resorting to measures such as rubber bullets – bridging the gap between “shouting and shooting”, Col Hymes said.

A similar “non-lethal” weapon, Silent Guardian, is being developed by US company Raytheon.

The heat-ray gun mounted on a Humvee vehicle

green zone repeatedly attacked

Baghdad’s Green Zone attacked

US soldiers secure the area as residents return to the neighborhood of al-Amil in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2008. Al-Amil's residents had fled the area during sectarian violence in 2006. US soldiers secure the area as residents return to the neighborhood of al-Amil in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2008. Al-Amil’s residents had fled the area during sectarian violence in 2006. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
By Patrick Quinn

Associated Press Writer / February 23, 2008

BAGHDAD—Extremists fired an explosive barrage Saturday into the capital’s heavily protected Green Zone, targeting the heart of America’s diplomatic and military mission in Iraq.
The U.S. military said there were no injuries from the early morning volley, which could be heard throughout downtown Baghdad.

The earth-jarring detonations, nearly 10 of them, even shook buildings across the Tigris River from the capital’s fortified core, which houses the U.S. Embassy, military facilities and the Iraqi government.

The attack came shortly before Brig. Gen. Mike Milano, a top U.S. military official tasked with restoring security to Baghdad, said that nearly 80 percent of the capital’s districts were now considered free of organized extremist activity.

The strikes were the most recent involving what Maj. Brad Leighton, a U.S. military spokesman, described as indirect fire — the military’s term for a rocket or mortar attack.

Similar volleys in the past week, including one against an Iraqi housing complex at Baghdad International Airport and its adjoining U.S. military base, killed 31 people, Milano said. He blamed the attacks on “al-Qaida and Iranian-backed special groups.”

Special groups is a term usually reserved for Shiite extremist groups that have broken away from radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army. Many are thought to be backed and trained by predominantly Shiite Iran.

In an upbeat assessment, Milano said a yearlong operation by the U.S. military and Iraqi security forces to make the capital safer had improved the situation.

According to Milano, when the operation began only 20 percent of Baghdad’s 479 districts — known as mahallas — were relatively free of organized violence.

“Today 78 percent of the mahallas are considered free of organized extremist activities,” said Milano, the deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army’s 4th Infantry Division.

He added that since June 2007 there had been a 75 percent decrease in attacks in Baghdad, a 90 percent decrease in civilian casualties and an 85 percent decrease in murders.

“All these indicate to me an improved security situation,” he said.

Baghdad, however, remains far from safe. The Iraqi military indefinitely banned all motorcycles, bicycles and hand-pushed and horse-drawn carts from the city’s streets, a military spokesman said Saturday.

cia officer lied to get job; worked in baghdad

How big a role did disgraced CIA officer have?

Prouty was assigned a sensitive post in Baghdad, NBC News has learned


By Andrea Mitchell and Robert Windrem
NBC News
updated 6:21 p.m. ET, Thurs., Nov. 15, 2007

There’s new information about the young Lebanese woman who pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges she lied about her background to get jobs at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Central Intelligence Agency.

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’s most sensitive post, Baghdad, and participated in the debriefings of high-ranking al-Qaida detainees.

A former colleague called Prouty “among the best and the brightest” CIA officers at the government’s most sensitive post – Baghdad. A second colleague added she was “quite highly thought of: and had received some prime assignments.

Among them: the investigation of the USS Cole bombing in Yemen and the investigation of war crimes in Rwanda, the East African nation racked by genocide.

So exceptional was her work, agree officials of both agencies, the CIA recruited her from the FBI to work for the agency’s 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.

“Early on, she was an active agent in the debriefings,” said one former intelligence official. “It was more than translation.”

On Tuesday, she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to illegally search FBI computers for classified information about Hezbollah and to naturalization fraud — 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 United States 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 — alongside Hezbollah spiritual leader Sheikh Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, designated by the United States as a terrorist.  

Chahine is currently a fugitive believed to be in Lebanon. He, along with Prouty’s 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’s Automated Case Support system and obtained information on investigations into Hezbollah being conducted by the FBI’s Detroit Field Office.

National security experts say the combination of her being at one of the CIA’s most sensitive stations, working on some of the agencies’ most sensitive cases, and having her relatives under investigation put her in a vulnerable position — 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.

“The issue is that she had access to very sensitive information regardless of where she was in the hierarchy,” said Cressey. “Because 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’s security.”

Officials tell NBC News that the time she fell under investigation in 2006, she was studying Farsi, the national language of Iran.

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.

“This is not John Dillinger or Reilly Ace of Spies,” said the official. “She 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’t let suspicions get ahead of the facts.”

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

© 2007 MSNBC Interactive