In a letter to CIA employees posted on the agency’s website yesterday, Director Panetta, who is soon to depart for the top job at the Defense Department, hailed the work of the U.S. intelligence community in the operation undertaken by U.S Special Forces and undergirded by intelligence operators to take out Osama bin Laden.
“Today, we have rid the world of the most infamous terrorist of our time,” Panetta wrote. He added,
He thanked and congratulated officials with the Counterterrorism Center and the Office of South Asia Analysis.
“The raid was the culmination of intense and tireless effort on the part of many dedicated agency officers over many years. Our men and women designed highly complex, innovative and forward-leaning clandestine operations that led us to Bin Laden. One operation would yield intelligence that was carefully analyzed and then used to drive further operations.”
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence all worked jointly on intelligence gathering and analysis, he said.
“We applied the full range of our capabilities, collecting intelligence through both human and technical means and subjecting it to the most rigorous analysis by our government’s leading experts on Bin Laden and his organization.” That intelligence, he said, was provided to the president, whom Panetta offered thanks to for his “willinginess to make the courageous decision to proceed with the operation.”
Though the operation was successful and bin Laden is now dead, al-Qaeda is not, Panetta cautioned.
“The terrorists almost certainly will attempt to avenge him, and we must — and will — remain vigilant and resolute. But we have struck a heavy blow against the enemy. The only leader they have ever known, whose hateful vision gave rise to their atrocities, is no more. The supposedly uncatchable one has been caught and killed. And we will not rest until every last one of them has been delivered to justice.”