At 58, Robert Levinson may have appeared just like any other hard working American man. He had a family -- seven children, in fact -- and photos of him show a man who cared deeply for them, celebrating holidays and smiling for the camera. Then, suddenly, seven years ago, he was taken from that life when he was kidnapped while on a "private" business trip in Iran. Slowly, the information has begun to come out.
He was CIA spy, but the US government has insisted until yesterday that he was not on a mission for them (even though they paid the family $2.5 million). Now, as of yesterday, it seems that he was, in fact, working in an "off the books" intelligence operation.
What does that mean?
In something that goes against many basic rules of working for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Levinson had been sent to Iran by a team of government analysts to get information from remote, sometimes dangerous, places around the world. Apparently, he was investigating the Iranian government when he disappeared.
If he is still alive, a fact that is highly debated, he would be the longest-kept US captive in history, even longer than journalist Terry Anderson. It has been nearly two years since his captors sent a series of distressing photos of Levinson, showing a man with an overgrown beard and an orange jumpsuit in shackles, holding signs that said, "help me."
For his family, this story is more than just a government scandal and it's truly a heartbreaking story. Can you imagine your father missing for seven years and never knowing why and then having this entire government conspiracy covering up the truth? It's just sickening.
Obviously our national security is the most important thing and he knew he was in a dangerous, risky field. But still. His family has been working tirelessly to find answers through their Facebook page. They miss him desperately. It is very frightening that they (and we) have been lied to and told he was a "private citizen" for years. People may have had their doubts, but now we know.
If the government lies about this -- a matter of life and death -- what won't they lie about? Scary, indeed. My heart goes out to Levinson's family. Let's hope that somewhere their husband and father is still alive and that they actually get him back.
At least the truth brings us one step closer to that.
Does it scare you that the government lied about this?