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Rediff.com  » News » In PHOTOS: Obama thanks CIA for Osama op; vows to wipe out Qaeda

In PHOTOS: Obama thanks CIA for Osama op; vows to wipe out Qaeda

Last updated on: May 21, 2011 15:05 IST

Obama thanks CIA for Osama op; vows to wipe out Qaeda

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United States President Barack Obama has visited headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency  to congratulate the top spy outfit for its role in killing of the Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

"I've returned just to say thank you, on behalf of all Americans and people around the world, because you carried on. You stayed focused on your mission. You honoured the memory of your fallen colleagues.

"In helping to locate and take down Osama bin Laden, you made it possible for us to achieve the most significant victory yet in our war to defeat the Al Qaeda," Obama said on Friday in his address to the CIA officials at its headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

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Image: US President Barack Obama speaks during a visit to CIA headquarters in Langley
Photographs: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
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Obama thanks CIA for Osama op; vows to wipe out Qaeda

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I wanted every single one of you to know, whether you work at the CIA or across the community, at every step of our effort to take out bin Laden, the work you did and the quality of the intelligence that you provided made the critical difference -- to me, to our team on those helicopters, to our nation," he said.

"After I directed that getting bin Laden be the priority, you hunkered down even more, building on years of painstaking work; pulling together, in some cases, the slenderest of intelligence streams, running those threads to ground until you found that courier and you tracked him to that compound," Obama said.


Image: Obama embraces CIA Director Leon Panetta during his visit to the CIA headquarters
Photographs: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
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Obama thanks CIA for Osama op; vows to wipe out Qaeda

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The president said that since he was briefed about bin Laden's whereabouts last summer, the spying agency had built the strongest intelligence network in their bid to trace the terrorist and also appreciated their effort that led to the discovery and killing of the most dreaded terrorist in the world.

"And when I was briefed last summer, you had built the strongest intelligence case against -- in terms of where bin Laden was since Tora Bora. In the months that followed, including all those meetings in the Situation Room, we did what sound intelligence demands," he said.

"We pushed for more collection. We pushed for more evidence. We questioned our assumptions. You strengthened your analysis. You didn't bite your tongue and try to spin the ball, but you gave it to me straight each and every time," Obama said.


Image: Obama greets CIA employees
Photographs: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
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Obama thanks CIA for Osama op; vows to wipe out Qaeda

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Acknowledging that when the time came to actually make the decision, they didn't know for sure that bin Laden was there, he said, adding that the evidence was circumstantial and the risks, especially to the lives of special operations forces were huge.

"I knew that the consequences of failure could be enormous. But I made the decision that I did because I had absolute confidence in the skill of our military personnel and I had confidence in you. I put my bet on you. And now the whole world knows that that faith in you was justified," he said.

 


Image: CIA employees are thrilled by the visit of Obama
Photographs: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
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Obama thanks CIA for Osama op; vows to wipe out Qaeda

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United States President Barack Obama also warned that the Al Qaeda members must watch their backs, as America evaluates a treasure trove of information related to terrorists seized from Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad.

"Every terrorist in the Al Qaeda network should be watching their back, because we're going to review every video, we are going to examine every photo, we're going to read every one of those millions of pages, we're going to pursue every lead. We are going to go wherever it takes us," Obama said on Fridday.

"We're going to finish the job. We are going to defeat the Al Qaeda," Obama said, referring to the treasure trove of information in his remarks to the intelligence community at the CIA headquarters.

"Because we not only took out the symbol and operational leader of the Al Qaeda, we walked off with his files -- the largest treasure trove of intelligence ever seized from a terrorist leader. Many of you now are working around the clock; you didn't have much time to celebrate.

We've got to analyse and evaluate and exploit this mountain of intelligence," Obama said in his address to the intelligence community.

"Even as we stay focused on this mission, we need you to stay nimble and flexible to meet the full range of threats to our security, from plots against our homeland to nations seeking weapons of mass destruction to transnational threats such as cyber criminals and narco traffickers," he said.

 


Image: Obama waves to CIA employees

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