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CIA Chief Defends Agency after Afghan Attack

The head of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency is defending his organization from charges that agency negligence led to the deaths of seven CIA officers in a suicide attack last month in Afghanistan.

In an opinion piece published in The Washington Post Saturday, Leon Panetta says, like soldiers, CIA agents must take risks to confront a "vicious foe," sometimes "at a very high price."

He says the operatives took precautions, noting that the attacker was stopped away from other intelligence personnel and was about to be searched when he set off the explosive.

U.S. media have quoted intelligence officials who said the bomber was a Jordanian doctor and an al-Qaida double agent.

Panetta says, "The CIA cannot speak publicly about its major victories," but he says these victories are the reason "the extremists hit back."

He says the organization will honor the dead agents by continuing its "aggressive counterterrorism operations."

Friday, Jordan's foreign minister, Nasser Judeh, said his country's presence in Afghanistan will be enhanced and increased to combat terrorism and assist in the humanitarian effort.

Judeh met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington Friday, and said Jordan is part of a network of countries trying to help Afghanistan fight terrorism. Judeh said his government's presence in the South Asian country is also aimed at defending Jordanians from a growing terror threat.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the December 30 attack on the U.S. base.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.