(AFP) – May 18, 2011
WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama will visit Central Intelligence Agency headquarters Friday to honor the entire US clandestine community's work in hunting down Osama bin Laden, the White House said.
Obama will head to CIA's Langley, Virginia headquarters to thank agents "for the work they do every day to keep America safe and specifically for their excellent work in tracking down Osama bin Laden," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Wednesday aboard Air Force One.
He said Obama made the decision to visit the CIA "in the wake of the successful bin Laden mission," in which elite US commandos whisked into Pakistan by helicopter in the dead of night and killed the Al-Qaeda terror kingpin on May 2, ending the most elaborate manhunt in history.
"So this was a presidential decision that he wanted to make this trip," Carney added.
Accused of failing to connect the dots before the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, the CIA has been relishing a public triumph after tracking down bin Laden in his compound and monitoring the house for months.
The failure to find bin Laden had long been a source of frustration for the CIA, which had come under renewed criticism recently for its reporting on unrest in Arab countries.
A number of the myriad US intelligence agencies were instrumental in tracking down bin Laden, including the CIA and the eavesdropping service National Security Agency (NSA).
CIA Director Leon Panetta also admitted to a litany of mistakes that allowed an Al-Qaeda militant to kill seven agency operatives in a 2010 suicide bombing in Afghanistan.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the agency flew new, highly sophisticated stealth drone planes on dozens of secret missions over Pakistan to monitor bin Laden's compound before US Navy SEALS killed him.
The CIA was also using satellites, eavesdropping equipment and agency operatives based at a safe house in Abbottabad, the garrison city where bin Laden is believed to have lived for about five years until he was found, according to the Post.
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