Reality has caught up with the federal agents who were all set to prosecute Robin L. Raphel, a long-time State Department advisor. They believed that she had been spying for Pakistan and passing along American secrets to her Pakistani counterparts. As a result, agents were ready to pounce on her. For a year, the Justice Department was sure she was guilty, but in spite of such certainty, their information proved to be false.
This scenario is similar to my experience with federal agents who snooped around me for more than a year and a half, after arresting my husband. They searched for something – anything for which I might be guilty, but found nothing. There was nothing to find. I was innocent of every possible crime they tried to dream up.
During this time, I panicked every time my lawyer said, “The prosecutor is thinking of putting you before a grand jury.” Or, “You’re going to receive a Target Letter.” Or, “They say they’re going to arrest you.” Or, “You’re a person of interest.” My heart would leap to my throat and then slam into my stomach.
Always, there was the first threat that kept being repeated, which was that the federal government was going to seize my home. The child pornography for which my husband was arrested, was in the house, so that gave them motive to take possession of the place where it had been found. Like the seizure of a car or house belonging to the family of a drug dealer, it would have been gone and sold at auction.
As if to mock me, I was told that I could always buy my house back from them. It seemed as if the feds were just playing around, seeing what results they could get from throwing such a threat at me. Sleep was often impossible, as I worried about what was going to happen to my home and what was going to happen to me.
Agents searched Raphel’s home and her State Department office. They cancelled her security clearance, but wouldn’t give her any details of what they found or what they believed.
I had agents hunt through everything in my home, confiscate my computers and go through all my files. They took photo CDs that I’d made of my grandson. After all, he was a child and they were looking for child pornography. The fact that all my husband’s photos were of little girls didn’t stop them from taking my pictures of a two-and-a-half-year-old boy. None were returned. I was told that if I attempted to go through the procedure to get my personal items returned, they would seize my house. That may have been a baseless threat, but I wasn’t willing to take a chance.
I understand that when bad things happen, law enforcement personnel investigate every possible scenario to find others who might be involved in the crime. My lawyer often told me that they were just trying to upset me to see if I knew something else that would help them in their case against my husband. I knew nothing, besides what happened that day they invaded my home.
After all, if federal officers think someone is guilty of a crime, they aren’t going to pussy-foot around those who associate with the suspect. They don’t concern themselves with the effects that such roughshod treatment creates for family members of the accused.
I had no involvement in my husband’s activities. However, they thought that perhaps I knew something that would help them make a stronger case or believed I was hiding important information. After all, we were married; I must know something.
The argument sounds reasonable, unless you’re the one being investigated and threatened and your world is destroyed. I imagine that’s the way Robin Raphel feels as well.