Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Proud to have served in the CIA

I have never been so proud of my service in the CIA. At the time I left active service in 1994, the Agency was in the throes of bureaucratic entanglements. Leadership of the Directorate of Operations, today's National Clandestine Service, was sorely lacking. Special Operations had been eviscerated. Case officers, the agent recruiters and handlers, had learned promotions came more easily and with no risk by networking at headquarters rather than working the less desirable areas of the globe in search of agent material. The watchword of the day was, "Avoid risk at all cost." Case officers knew,if there was a flap associated with their operation, no one, but no one had their back.

Then General Mike Hayden, a consummate intelligence professional, took over as Director of the CIA. He began the process of putting the Agency back on the right track. Leon Panetta, who followed General Hayden as Director, to the surprise of many at CIA, proved to be not only a protector of his people, he made them proud to be intelligence professionals. And they did not let him down.

Agency professionals, from case officers, analysts, technical ooperations specialists to interrogators, they all pursued Usama bin Laden with the knowledge their director and the rest of CIA's senior leadeership were behind them. And thanks to Mr. Panetta's special relationship with President Obama, all of CIA knew they had the full backing of their Commander-in-Chief.

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