Obama Hails CIA Patriots Who ‘Served in the Shadows,’ CIA Vows to Avenge Deaths
January 1, 2010
(ChattahBox)— In the tragic aftermath of one of the deadliest attacks against CIA personnel that killed seven and wounded six deep in the center of the agency’s Afghan base of operations, troubling questions need to be answered. How did a suicide bomber gain admittance into a heavily fortified facility; the Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost Province? And why wasn’t he searched? Reports say that he was a uniformed member of the Afghan army. If those reports are true, that makes the CIA bombing the second deadly attack in just three days by Afghan soldiers on foreign troops. Our Afghan strategy is based on training and working in concert with Afghan soldiers to hand over Afghanistan’s security to the Afghan National Army. If some of the Afghan soldiers are aligned with the Taliban and can’t be trusted, how can our strategy have any hope of success?
All of these questions will have to be addressed as additional U.S. troops and civilian contractors are deployed to the region in a last ditch surge to release the country from the grip of the Taliban and al-Qaida forces.
The CIA is reeling from the deadly attack, which occurred soon after the agency received criticism for “systemic failures” that allowed AbdulMutallab, the underwear bomber to board a plane on Christmas day bound for the U.S. with explosives sewn in his underwear. Now, there appears to be another security breach that allowed a suicide bomber to enter a secure facility. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack by the man dressed as an Afghan soldier, who ignited the bombs in a suicide vest once he entered the gym facility of the base.
Although CIA spokesman George Little, said that “It’s far too early to draw conclusions about something that happened just yesterday,” reports from a former senior intelligence official indicate that the suicide bomber was invited into the base and may have been courted as an informant. The official said that an experienced CIA debriefer had traveled from Kabul for the meeting with the bomber, possibly to obtain intelligence from the bomber.
As the flags at CIA headquarters at Langey fly at half mast in mourning for the fallen agents, President Barack Obama and CIA Director Leon Panetta issued statements on Thursday honoring the agents’ service and sacrifice for their country. Panetta said, “those who fell … were far from home and close to the enemy, doing the hard work that must be done to protect our country from terrorism.”
President Obama honored the fallen agents, as patriots who have “served in the shadows” to keep America safe:
“These brave Americans were part of a long line of patriots who have made great sacrifices for their fellow citizens, and for our way of life. The United States would not be able to maintain the freedom and security that we cherish without decades of service from the dedicated men and women of the CIA. You have helped us understand the world as it is, and taken great risks to protect our country. You have served in the shadows, and your sacrifices have sometimes been unknown to your fellow citizens, your friends, and even your families.”
Obama acknowledged the valuable work of the CIA since 9/11:
“Because of your service, plots have been disrupted, American lives have been saved, and our Allies and partners have been more secure. Your triumphs and even your names may be unknown to your fellow Americans, but your service is deeply appreciated. Indeed, I know firsthand the excellent quality of your work because I rely on it every day.”
A U.S. intelligence official vowed to avenge the deaths of his colleagues, by continuing the work they started. “This attack will be avenged through successful, aggressive counterterrorism operations,” said the official.
Despite the loss of qualified and dedicated agents, officials say that the attack will not deter plans to increase operations in Afghanistan, as agents gather intelligence before an additional 30,000 troops are deployed. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Julie Reside said plans to increase the U.S. civilian presence in Afghanistan remained on track and that security would continue to be a primary concern.
And a U.S. intelligence official said that the CIA is more determined in the wake of the attack to continue with their important operations. “There’s no talk — none — of retrenching or slowing the pace of CIA activities,” said the official. “There are plenty of people ready, able, and in place to pursue the fight. The atmosphere at Langley is one of even greater focus and determination. The place is galvanized.”
On the same day, the Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack against Canadian soldiers with a roadside bomb, killing four soldiers and a journalist, Michelle Lang, 34, with the Calgary Herald. Lang was on a six-week assignment to Afghanistan and had just arrived on Dec 11. The attack also injured five Canadians, marking it as the worst single day for Afghanistan casualties, since six soldiers were killed on July 4, 2007.
It was originally reported that eight CIA employees were killed in the attack, but it was latr confirmed that seven lost their lives.
The deaths of the seven CIA agents is the single worst incident, since eight CIA employees, were killed in the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut on April 18, 1983. Since the CIA’s inception in 1947, 90 employees have been killed in the line of duty. Wednesday’s deaths will increase the number of CIA casualties to 97.