The CIA Massacre: An Update

First, some thoughts from Ishamel Jones, a former CIA case officer:

CIA employees in Afghanistan are a special breed. With more than 90% of CIA employees living and working entirely within the United States , the burden of wartime service falls heavily upon a patriotic few. Newly trained CIA officers who volunteer for service in Afghanistan or Iraq do so by joining either the CIA division responsible for the Middle East or the CIA division for counterterrorism. Once assigned to these divisions, choices for subsequent duty stations tend to be limited to hardship locations. It's common for a CIA officer finishing a tour in Afghanistan to be assigned to a tour in Iraq . By contrast, it's common for an officer in the European division to finish a tour in Brussels and then be assigned to Paris .

The CIA officers I met who had served in Afghanistan were brave and talented, every single one of them. They are driven to serve in Afghanistan because they are patriotic Americans who want to gather the intelligence we need to protect our country and our allies. CIA employees in Afghanistan are not there for bureaucratic advancement. Few of the CIA's top managers have ever done a tour in a war zone, and these top managers tend to promote people who have followed career tracks similar to their own.

The importance of the mission in Afghanistan intensifies the CIA officers' focus. The intelligence they produce is excellent, especially the tactical intelligence. The physical danger and the distance from CIA Headquarters, both in miles and in mentality, seems to reduce risk aversion. Aggressive, productive operations that would never be considered in other regions of the world are routine in Afghanistan . Our finest people are exposed to the most danger.

CIA officers in Afghanistan and Iraq tend to be very young. One of them once told me, "One of these days, all of us junior case officers who have served in a war zone will revolt against the old guys."

Now, a letter from President Obama to the men and women of the CIA:

To the men and women of the CIA:

I write to mark a sad occasion in the history of the CIA and our country. Yesterday, seven Americans in Afghanistan gave their lives in service to their country. Michelle and I have their families, friends and colleagues in our thoughts and prayers.

These brave Americans were part of a long line of patriots who have made great sacrifices for their fellow citizens, and for our way of life. The United States would not be able to maintain the freedom and security that we cherish without decades of service from the dedicated men and women of the CIA. You have helped us understand the world as it is, and taken great risks to protect our country. You have served in the shadows, and your sacrifices have sometimes been unknown to your fellow citizens, your friends, and even your families.

In recent years, the CIA has been tested as never before. Since our country was attacked on September 11, 2001, you have served on the frontlines in directly confronting the dangers of the 21st century. Because of your service, plots have been disrupted, American lives have been saved, and our Allies and partners have been more secure. Your triumphs and even your names may be unknown to your fellow Americans, but your service is deeply appreciated. Indeed, I know firsthand the excellent quality of your work because I rely on it every day.

The men and women who gave their lives in Afghanistan did their duty with courage, honor and excellence, and we must draw strength from the example of their sacrifice. They will take their place on the Memorial Wall at Langley alongside so many other heroes who gave their lives on behalf of their country. And they will live on in the hearts of those who loved them, and in the freedom that they gave their lives to defend.

May God bless the memory of those we lost, and may God bless the United States of America.


President Barack Obama