February 5th, 2010
04:26 PM ET
4 years ago

Obama honors 7 CIA officers killed in Afghanistan blast

President Obama delivered remarks Friday at a memorial service for fallen CIA employees.
President Obama delivered remarks Friday at a memorial service for fallen CIA employees.

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama paid tribute Friday to seven CIA officers killed in Afghanistan in December, calling them "American patriots who loved their country and gave their lives to defend it."

Obama delivered the remarks during a memorial service at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. The service was closed to the media to protect the identities of undercover officers in attendance. A transcript of Obama's speech was provided to members of the press.

"There are no words that can ease the ache in your hearts," Obama told families, friends and co-workers of the seven officers. "But to their colleagues and all who served with them - those here today, those still recovering, those watching around the world, I say: Let their sacrifice be a summons. To carry on their work. To complete this mission. To win this war, and to keep our country safe."

A suicide bomber killed the CIA officers, as well as a Jordanian intelligence official, on December 30 at a U.S. base in Khost, in southeastern Afghanistan.


The bomber was within seconds of being searched by security contractors when he detonated his explosives, a former intelligence official with knowledge of the incident told CNN in January.

Two of those killed were contractors with private security firm Xe, formerly known as Blackwater, a former intelligence official told CNN. The CIA considers contractors to be officers.

Former CIA official Robert Richer called the bombing the greatest loss of life for the agency since the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, which killed eight officers.

"These remarkable men and women are the story of America," CIA Director Leon Panetta said at Friday's service, according to the transcript. "They are the heart and soul of this great country. Their devotion to duty is the foundation of our country."

U.S. and Jordanian officials say the bomber, Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, had been recruited as a counterterrorism intelligence agent, despite concerns over his extremist views, and was being used in the hunt for a senior al Qaeda figure.

The suicide bombing was "a huge blow, symbolically and tactically," because it eliminated so many CIA officers, who can take years to become ingrained in the region, Reva Bhalla, director of analysis for Stratfor - an international intelligence company, told CNN in January. In addition, the attack showed the ability of the Taliban to penetrate perhaps the most difficult of targets - a CIA base, she said.

But Panetta issued a strong statement at the service Friday, assuring those in attendance that "we will carry this fight to the enemy."

"Our resolve is unbroken, our energy undiminished, and our dedication to each other and to our nation, unshakable," Panetta said.


Filed under: CIA • President Obama
soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Vote for GOP based on their ideas, which are.......?????

    Or Pat F,

    You can question why Al Qaida is stronger than ever after 8 years of Republican national security.

    Or did Al Qaida just pop-up in 2009?

    February 5, 2010 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  2. Jane/Seattle

    At least President Obama shows up after U.S. meddling/foreign policy takes more lives! After all, continuing Bush policy makes him no different. Who is controlling Obama? This is the question! Words are easy, but actions are the telling points! Waging Peace would save lives in the final analysis. These who are dead were participants in a deadly game for profits for capitalists. That is the bottom line. Maybe he could go to mourn all the dead, maimed, and suffering families in these other "terrorist" countries. I think they see this differently as they suffer and struggle against Goliath.

    February 5, 2010 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  3. Gary P.

    How heartwarming. The President was able to act as if he really cared for those agents who gave their lives for our great country. Sometimes he's able to act like he cares for the rest of us, too. Along with the Nobel Prize, he may deserve an Oscar for acting.

    February 5, 2010 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  4. Mr Right

    II believe honor and loyalty are what these agents gave, and Obama is right to give them a suitable speech.
    Unfortunately it is just another worthless speech, Obama’s loyalty from the CIA is not reciprocative, he is actively working to weaken and draw down our front line of defense against fascist Islamist terrorists to meet his left wing radical base's extremist demands. Look at his deeds not his words.

    February 5, 2010 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  5. sheena - Canada

    Pat F and A Smith, Oregon

    You should be ashamed of yourselfs.

    February 5, 2010 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  6. jj

    Do your job Mr. President. We have your back and we love you!

    February 5, 2010 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  7. JT the Show Me State College Freshman

    Average American,
    I want to thank you very much for your compassion; I'm a young guy. I actually have an idea that I think might help America. Here it is:
    For all investments, we must come up with an investment total; this will come up with an investment sum; that number is 25 trillion dollars. That number is huge; there is no denying that, but if we are to sustain a US clean energy independent economy, that is what we must do if it is to be accomplished. This investment needs to be divided up to a 50 year time span. We must invest 3 trillion in solar over a period of 50 years, 3 trillion in wind over the next 50 years, 6 trillion in geothermal energy over the next 50 years, 3 trillion in hydrogen in the next 50 years, 4 trillion in biomass/ biofuel energy over the next 50 years, 2 trillion in natural gas over the next 50 years, and 2 trillion in nuclear technology in the next 50 years; including 2 trillion in offshore oil in the next 50 years. I think implementing a form of a Progressive Tax System is necessary to pay for this; >$1million a year (45% tax on yearly income),> 500 thousand- 1million (40%), >250 thousand- 500 thousand (30%), >100 thousand- 250 thousand (15%), >75 thousand- 100 thousand (10%), >50 thousand- 75 thousand (5%), >35 thousand- 50 thousand (2-3%), >10 thousand- 35 thousand (1%), 10 thousand or less will pay a very little tax ($1,000,000 a year would pay a total of at least $450 thousand worth of taxes per year (45%). Half of that would go to the investments I described above ($225 thousand), and the other half would go to other government programs like Medicare, Social Security, etc. More money in the middle and lower class’s pockets, means the more money they will have to spend or invest in small or big businesses, resulting in job creation down the road; in the long run, everyone benefits.

    February 5, 2010 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  8. GI Joe

    It's great to see an administration honor heroes. Quite unlike the last admin. that "outed" them to our enemies.

    February 5, 2010 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  9. Objective Thinking

    once upon a horse (February 5th, 2010 4:30 pm ET) said:

    "I am guessing somewhere some how a right winger will find something wrong with President Obama doing this as well. More than likely they'll blame him for their deaths."

    ---

    And you are the first one to introduce partisan comments on here.

    February 5, 2010 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  10. JT the Show Me State College Freshman

    Average American,
    Thank you very much; I'm a young man. I think I have an idea regarding the economy, tax reform, our debt problem, and the energy crisis we are in right now as well. Here it is:
    For all investments, we must come up with an investment total; this will come up with an investment sum; that number is 25 trillion dollars. That number is huge; there is no denying that, but if we are to sustain a US clean energy independent economy, that is what we must do if it is to be accomplished. This investment needs to be divided up to a 50 year time span. We must invest 3 trillion in solar over a period of 50 years, 3 trillion in wind over the next 50 years, 6 trillion in geothermal energy over the next 50 years, 3 trillion in hydrogen in the next 50 years, 4 trillion in biomass/ biofuel energy over the next 50 years, 2 trillion in natural gas over the next 50 years, and 2 trillion in nuclear technology in the next 50 years; including 2 trillion in offshore oil in the next 50 years.
    I think implementing a form of a Progressive Tax System is necessary to pay for this; >$1million a year (45% tax on yearly income),> 500 thousand- 1million (40%), >250 thousand- 500 thousand (30%), >100 thousand- 250 thousand (15%), >75 thousand- 100 thousand (10%), >50 thousand- 75 thousand (5%), >35 thousand- 50 thousand (2-3%), >10 thousand- 35 thousand (1%), 10 thousand or less will pay a very little tax (<1%). Progressive taxes attempt to reduce the tax incidence of people with a lower ability-to-pay, as they shift the incidence increasingly to those with a higher ability-to-pay. The population in the US after 2060, will be over 400 million, with the workforce being about 230 million; 25 trillion investment/ 230 million will equal $108,695.65 for each worker and their families to spend or invest on anything that will reform our economy to clean, renewable energy. The investments paid by the Progressive Tax System will continue from then on according to the population/ income per person of the United States to be withdrawn for a period of one year every 50 years. We could solve our debt problem as well with the Progressive Tax System I have in mind. A program has to be created to hire people to make sure that money collected in the Progressive Tax System goes directly to the investments I described above; the money left after the 25 trillion, will be used to pay for other programs in the United States. More money in the middle and lower class’s pockets, means more money they will have to spend or invest in small or big businesses, resulting in job creation down the road; in the long run, everyone benefits.

    February 5, 2010 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  11. D.

    God bless their souls!
    According to this administration they were killed by trans-national non-state networks' members.... what a goofy way to relate to terrorists!

    February 5, 2010 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  12. A. Smith, Oregon

    A secret program drawn up and implemented by Dick Cheney which green lights CIA Xe contractors to murder Americans at home or overseas that is suspected of terrorist activity's is inherently flawed.

    Some 2/3 of Dick Cheney's supposedly highly vetted targets turned out to be NOT a Terrorist. Oops! State sanctioned murder of innocent Americans is a business that America should not be involved in!

    Not only is this a slippery slope for now President Obama to continue traveling down, it is a dangerous development for any Democracy to have such a Unconstitutional program in place.

    February 5, 2010 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  13. Sue

    Perhaps..........Before Obama attempts to give any speeches honoring the CIA---or any of the other heroes that protect our country.........He should get the assistance of a English/reading tutor.

    Did everyone hear Obama's speech yesterday--–where he called the corpsman a "Corpse man".

    Obama did not just say this once........he said it 3 TIMES!!!!

    Don't blame the teleprompter--it can only do so much. It can tell Obama "what" to say--but it cannot teach him how to pronounce the words.

    February 5, 2010 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  14. annie against biased news

    Did he call them corpsemen?

    February 5, 2010 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  15. Hugo

    Good move Barry!

    February 5, 2010 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  16. joe sixpack

    Sorry to say, but they had it coming.. what goes around comes around. You can not keep on murdering people and expect their relatives, friends not to retaliate. How many innocent women, children "collateral damage" has the CIA slaughtered in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq .... etc. etc..

    February 5, 2010 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  17. Orange Curtain, CA

    The Republican Taliban lunatics are at it again. Get a life you childish trolls and quit crying about every little thing the President does.

    February 5, 2010 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  18. all the news that's fit to omit

    I think Obama is the most inept president (no cap deserved) ever, BUT, why bust his chops on this?

    The families of these folks deserve the respect we should give the fallen and keep Obama out of the equation for this one blog, OBAMA DID NOTHING WRONG HERE.

    May these seven good honest heroes rest in peace and from an old navy Veteran, Godspeed.

    February 5, 2010 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  19. Fitz in Texas

    Pat F February 5th, 2010 5:31 pm ET

    Obama's administration is directly responsible for their deaths by making the CIA lower their guard and demonstrate their "trust" in these scumbags.

    I hope the families spit in his eye. I sure would have.
    ******************************************
    AMEN..........Pat F

    February 5, 2010 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  20. Stallion

    To JT: We already are the greatest country that civilization has ever seen......and all this partisanship, bickering and speaking out is what will keep it that way.

    February 5, 2010 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  21. Robert

    Pat F stupidly said:

    "Obama's administration is directly responsible for their deaths by making the CIA lower their guard and demonstrate their "trust" in these scumbags."

    What have you been smoking?

    It's terribly sad to me that a President of the United States cannot say or do anything on a daily basis without being condemned repeatedly by adults acting like school yard bullies, complete with name calling and lies.

    "United we Stand" doesn't seem to mean much anymore with all the lies being told and the internet to fuel them as never before.

    February 5, 2010 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
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