February 5th, 2010
04:26 PM ET
5 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. Average American

    My prayers go out to every single American who is selflessly defending this great country.

    February 5, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  2. once upon a horse

    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.

    February 5, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  3. Gary

    Honoring and not investigating the CIA is great. We're going to need them to assassinate nuclear scientists in Iran to stop Iran from getting the bomb. We need them to get intelligence to prevent the next attack. We need them to operate the drone planes that will finally one day kill Osama bin bastard....

    February 5, 2010 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  4. Liberalism is a Mental Disorder

    As usual, BHO talking out of both sides of his mouth....he is going to honor the CIA agents here, as he considers filing criminal charges against others that were doing their job and following the legal opinions at the time.

    How can anyone believe a word this guy says (especially when he flat out lies like this "I am not an ideologue" -hahahahahha – what a joke)

    February 5, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  5. Mark

    Hey Liberalism, I suppose you see "black helicopters" flying around too. Ah, if we only had fewer ignorant humans like you, the US would DEFINITELLY be a better place.

    February 5, 2010 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  6. Marc

    Liberalism is a Mental Disorder – 'following the legal opnions'? Of whom dude? Of those who think that we can cower in fear and thus throw away what makes us different from those guys from 9/11?
    Please remember, George Washington was against torture and mistreatment of prisoners.
    Ulysses Grant was against torture and mistreatment of prisoners.
    Eisenhower was against torture and mistreatment of prisoners.
    Dick 'Draft Dodger' Cheney was (and still is) for torture and mistreatment of prisoners.
    I'll take the opinion of the first three...

    February 5, 2010 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  7. Pelosi is a see-you-en-tea

    The telepropter author must have put large enough spaces between the letters C I and A, so that Obamessiah didn't call them Kia's (the same way he called the Marines CorPsemen)...

    February 5, 2010 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  8. Pete

    Gary,

    You want the CIA to assassinate nuclear scientists in Iran? What crime will they have committed that would warrant the death penalty?

    February 5, 2010 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  9. this black liberal hates Obama

    That's a good one, Pelosi is a see-you-en-tea. I like that!

    February 5, 2010 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  10. Rick McDaniel

    Those are the actors we are having trouble finding, it would seem. So much for intelligence.

    February 5, 2010 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  11. Vic of New York

    I only wish he'd have called out some of the disgraceful Republicans who have had the treasonous gall to compare the competency of these Americans to a "Larry King" interrogation!

    So much for Republican Senators pretending to be loyal Americans. These guys are the worst swine on the planet.

    February 5, 2010 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  12. Average American

    Seriously, after eight years of W mangling the English language, you are going to jump on this President for mispronouncing one word?!?!

    February 5, 2010 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  13. Average American

    That Pelosi joke is just crude...AND how dare you use it on a post honoring the fallen CIA officers!!!!!

    February 5, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  14. Glen Beck is king of the morons

    He honors his bosses.

    February 5, 2010 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  15. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Let's never forget that those who so bravely serve are heroes without reference to race, religion, etc. They are our HEROES.

    February 5, 2010 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  16. gt

    get our boys home now,,,

    February 5, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  17. JT the Show Me State College Freshman

    Those officers gave their lives to protect the American public, and some on here still find something wrong with what President Obama did today; I understand that all of us have differences of opinion, but to criticize the president for doing this is very detestable and disgraceful. I am just going to say what I have had in mind for a long time; some of you people are idiots; if you cannot respect someone for even honoring the fallen, then you really need to get your morals straightened out. I am quite tired of all this partisanship in Washington; we finally have a president who at least wants to move foward in rebuilding our economy, and all congress can do is only concern themselves; it is quite detestable, and it is we who voted those people in, so we are to blame as well. This mess was caused by decades of bad, irresponsible decisions by the generation of people in charge for the past 30-35 years; you know which generation I am refering to. Instead of partisan arguing, how about we start looking at the bigger picture on working together on what this country needs desperately; clean energy independence, healthcare for all Americans, a responsible, trustworthy financial system, and a military that does not exclude people from wanting to serve this country because they are "different." To achieve those, we need to think in a complex manner, we need to look at every complicated issue facing us by looking at all of these perspectives; economic, political, scientific, psychological, legal, cultural, mythological, and the moral/ personal perspectives as well. America, we have the potential to be the greatest country that this Earth has ever seen in it's history of civilization; to make that possible, we have to get over this partisanship, work together, and think everthing facing us, that will affect us in the future, in a complex, multi perspective point of view as I described above. America, George Washington wanted us to be great; lets make him proud and achieve clean energy independence for America, healthcare for all Americans, a responsible, trustworthy financial system, and most importantly of all, achieving our true potential to see the American spirit that dwells in each and everyone of us. Have a great day all.

    February 5, 2010 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  18. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    How pathetic that the Cons are posting their usually vile here. Really Conservatives have reached a new low.

    May the CIA agents rest in peace, and may Jesus, comfort their loved ones.

    Thank you, President Obama, for taking time to honor these American heroes.

    February 5, 2010 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  19. Big Ed

    Can't we honor those who served their country with distinction without turning it into a political lumberjack match?

    February 5, 2010 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  20. D.D.

    My sentiments is extended to the families of our heroes. Thank you for sharing your family member.

    February 5, 2010 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  21. A. Smith, Oregon

    These Evil people deserve no distinction whatsoever. When they are killed or die, they are placed into the recycle bin where all Evil people are placed. Their evil will not return to creation ever again, Amen!

    February 5, 2010 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  22. Pat F

    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.

    February 5, 2010 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  23. Average American

    AMEN JT.. but young man (or young lady), take a breath every once and a while. I'm guessing here, but I think you're too young to develop high blood pressure. Stay in school, study hard, work to make the world a better place. You have a great life in front of you! God bless you!

    February 5, 2010 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  24. Glen Beck is king of the morons

    I think the CIA also killed the Kennedys.

    February 5, 2010 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  25. Vote for GOP based on their ideas, which are.......?????

    @Liberalism is a Mental Disorder,

    Over 4,000 troops dead.

    No WMDs

    Al Qaida is stronger.

    No bin Laden.

    And that's why no one will listen to you, because I have yet to see Conservatives produce results.

    February 5, 2010 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
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