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PBA alumna reveals her life and faith as a spy

March 1, 2017

Town of Palm Beach, Fla. - Michele Rigby Assad is a former CIA agent and a counterterrorism expert who spent a decade at the agency serving in some of the most dangerous places in the world.


Now, she's detailing her experiences in a book appropriately titled, "Breaking Cover," expected to be released this summer.


Assad recently attended a special Palm Beach Atlantic University event called "Women of Distinction", celebrating Emilia Fanjul and Darlene Jordan last week.


Graduating from PBA in 1995 with honors and a Bachelor's degree in Political Science, Assad questioned her career path, but felt drawn to International Affairs.


“I took every opportunity I could to get abroad,” Assad said, referring to her time at PBA. “So, multiple mission trips. I did a study abroad program.”


She explained that the path to a career was a difficult one, and she ended up living in Washington D.C. with her husband and attending graduate school at Georgetown University.


The Central Intelligence Agency based in Langley, VA recruited Assad right out of graduate school. Though, she never imagined she would end up working for the CIA.


“I didn’t even know that was a real job. Like people actually do that for a living?” Assad said, laughing.


She spent her career trained as an intelligence officer, with a focus on counterterrorism. However, there were several moral challenges during her time as a spy.


Assad explained a dilemma where she and her husband, also a PBA graduate, were aware of colleagues fabricating intelligence reports that were going to the White House and National Security Council.


“Every intelligence report we put out about a counterterrorism mission, we’re putting lives on the line because soldiers are acting on that information. So if that information is fabricated, and you’re sending people out into the streets based on that information, every time they leave that military base there is a chance of them getting killed,” Assad said.


Most recently, the relationship between President Donald Trump and the CIA has been rocky ever since he took office on January 20.


Former CIA Director R. James Woolsey Jr. was resigned from President Trump’s transition team due to Trump’s ambitions for U.S. intelligence agencies.


Then very publicly, ex-CIA officer Edward Price announced his resignation from the CIA due to the ongoing political tensions between Trump and the agency.

Former CIA agent and author Michele Rigby Assad recently joined PBA President William Fleming and other alumni at an event held at The Breakers Palm Beach called Women of Distinction. 

Assad commented on the situation between the CIA and Trump, and explained that it is important for the President to maintain a strong relationship with the intelligence community.


“I believe they’re getting off on the wrong foot, which is deeply unfortunate,” Assad said. “And I understand [President Trump] does want to make changes, and change is good. We need change. But the way you go about that is really critical,” she said.


It's also important, according to Assad, for CIA employees to work wholeheartedly for both Republicans and Democrats.


“Your job is not to be political,” Assad said.

Since retiring from the CIA, Assad has been given clearance to drop cover and work on a book – a dream she developed over six years ago.


Entitled “Breaking Cover,” the book will tell stories of finding one’s true calling in life and handling difficult challenges. Assad hopes to encourage those who haven’t found their place in the world yet.


“The point of the book really is to use my own story to provide hope and inspiration for other people who are trying to figure out where they’re supposed to be,” Assad said.


The book is currently set to be released this August, after a thorough review from the CIA.



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