President Barack Obama visited CIA headquarters Friday to thank U.S. intelligence workers for their role in finding and killing Osama bin Laden.
The president went before about 1,000 cheering workers to praise them for the secret intelligence work which led U.S. special forces to terrorist leader bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.
Obama told them he has never been prouder or more confident in them.
"The quality of the intelligence that you provided made the critical difference to me, to our team on those helicopters, to our nation,” he said.
The president said the long-term work of the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies made possible what he called the most significant victory in the war against al-Qaida.
Obama praised the intelligence community for tracking a bin Laden courier to his compound in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad.
The president said he especially appreciated the intelligence agencies’ honest and accurate information, and their ability to keep it quiet.
“You gave it to me straight each and every time. And we did something really remarkable in Washington - we kept it a secret. That is how it should be,” he said.
This was the president's third visit to CIA headquarters since taking office. He recalled that on his first visit, in 2009, he told CIA Director Leon Panetta to make killing or capturing bin Laden the agency’s top priority.
The president reminded the intelligence community that the war against al-Qaida is not over, and that they have more work ahead. He said the U.S. will continue to study the information troops confiscated from bin Laden’s compound.
Obama recently traveled to Fort Campbell in Kentucky to thank military personnel involved in the raid.
The president’s visit comes as Leon Panetta prepares to close out his tenure as CIA Director and take over as Defense Secretary. He will be replaced in July by Army General David Petraeus, who will step down as the commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan and retire from the military. Both appointments require Senate confirmation.