Lebanese-born ex-FBI and -CIA operative Prouty offers a disturbing account of how anti-Arab sentiment among key government officials led to her dismissal from the intelligence community and the suspension of her U.S. citizenship.
The understandably defensive tone of this book is established early on when the author writes that, though now Catholic, she was born a Druze and practiced “an amalgam of Muslim, Christian, Sufi, and Pentateuch teachings." When the American University of Beirut closed in 1989, she left Lebanon and an abusive family situation to live with an older sister who had established herself in Detroit. There, she doggedly pursued the education that would allow her to “break the cycle of dependency on men and become self-sufficient"--to the point of entering into an arranged marriage to secure her status in America. Prouty’s path eventually led her into a career as an undercover agent at the FBI and then the CIA. At both agencies, she quickly developed a reputation as a dedicated, first-rate professional who played an important role in capturing top terror suspects including Saddam Hussein. But in 2005, her career suddenly ground to a halt when federal investigators charged her with passing intelligence to Lebanese operatives of Hezbollah. A righteously indignant Prouty clearly seeks vindication for the wrongs committed against her, but she rages neither against her U.S. government accusers nor the journalists who excoriated her as a traitor. Instead, she expresses concern that her experiences as a “nonwhite, non-ethnically West European, and non-Christian” are symptomatic of larger cultural paranoia that, if left unchecked, will undermine enlightened civil society.
A sobering account of democratic fallibility in an age of anxiety.