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Obama thanks CIA for tracking down bin Laden

President Obama stopped by the CIA this afternoon to personally thank the analysts who helped tracked down Osama bin Laden, praising the agency for piecing together the intelligence that led to the world’s most wanted man.

Speaking to nearly 1,000 analysts and employees, the president said: “After I directed that getting bin Laden be the priority, you hunkered down even more, building on years of painstaking work; pulling together, in some cases, the slenderest of intelligence streams, running those threads to ground until you found that courier and you tracked him to that compound.”

President Obama told the audience that even though officers and analysts of the highly-secretive CIA don’t get “headlines” or “ticker-tape parades,” that they go about their work with “incredible diligence and dedication every single day.” 

The mission couldn’t have been a success, he said, without the seamless coordination across all of the nation’s intelligence agencies along with the U.S. military. A CIA spokesperson pointed out that the president’s remarks were being broadcast to all 17 agencies within the U.S. intelligence community.

Obama described the work that led to bin Laden as “one of the greatest intelligence successes in American history.” And the president said intel professionals “are going to be inspired by your achievement for generations to come.”

But the president was most appreciative for something they didn’t do: talk about the operation to track down the al Qaeda mastermind.

Obama explained, “[W]e did something really remarkable in Washington -- we kept it a secret.” 

Before addressing the crowd in the lobby of the original headquarters building at the Langley, VA complex, the president met behind closed doors with 60 analysts from various intelligence agents who were involved in the bin Laden operation. According to a CIA spokesperson, “He wanted to thank them personally for the work they’ve done over the last 10 years… Some of them have been looking for bin Laden much longer.”

As he met with his top national security team to analyze what was merely circumstantial evidence about that compound in Abbottabad, Obama said he went ahead with the raid because he had faith in the military and intelligence community.

“I put my bet on you. And now the whole world knows that that faith in you was justified,” he said.