Ex-CIA officer's story takes dramatic turn

Nada Prouty is interviewed by CBS News anchor Scott Pelley.
CBS News

NEW YORK - A former CIA officer, once disgraced as a traitor, now finds the federal government coming to her rescue. Nada Proudy was vilified in the media as a terrorist, and lost her citizenship.

But now, the director of the CIA, the attorney general, and the secretary of Homeland Security are intervening in her case. CBS Evening News anchor updates his "60 Minutes" story from last year.

"I believe in the country," Prouty told Pelley last year. "I believe in everything that this country stands for."

Prouty's missions as an FBI agent and a CIA officer read like a history of the war on terror. She investigated the bombing of the USS Cole, and an attack on Americans in Saudi Arabia. She took part in armed raids in Iraq and helped develop intelligence that led to Saddam Hussein. It was a stellar career until Prouty's name came up in an FBI investigation.

In 2004, the FBI looked into whether the Lebanese owner of a restaurant was sending money to terrorists. Turned out, he was Pouty's brother-in-law. During the investigation, the FBI found Pouty had a secret: Not terrorism, but citizenship. Twenty years before, as a Lebanese immigrant in a U.S. college, Pouty arranged a sham marriage to become a citizen. Prosecutors went after her for that. They never presented any evidence she was connected to terrorists. But in press releases, they dragged her name into the terror investigation - and even once used the word "espionage."

"One of the New York papers calls you 'Jihad Jane,'" Pelley said.

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

Prouty pled guilty to the immigration violation and automatically lost her citizenship and her career. The judge in the case excoriated the prosecutors for their public relations campaign. After the "60 Minutes" story Prouty got word that Leon Panetta, then the CIA director, was making her a legal resident alien.

Watch 60 Minutes: The case against Nada Prouty

The Case Against Nada Prouty

"The director of Central Intelligence, the Attorney General of the United States and the Secretary of Homeland Security all signed off on this change in your status?" Pelley asked in an interview earlier this month.

"Absolutely, I feel more American today than I ever felt in my life," Prouty replied. At the end of the day, Prouty says she has learned "it's the power of the people in the country and without the power of the people without media actually investigating and reporting these kind of stories. We don't have that. That's what makes this country a great country."

Prosecutors say they stand by their case. Prouty told CBS News she's applied for full citizenship.

  • Scott Pelley

    Correspondent, "60 Minutes"