The attack last week on a Central Intelligence Agency outpost in Afghanistan’s Khost Province near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border called attention to the ultimate sacrifice sometimes paid by intelligence and law enforcement personnel engaged in counterterrorism operations..
Seven American intelligence operatives — five CIA members and two contractors — were killed after a Jordanian double agent posing as an informant gained access to the compound and detonated an explosive device, according to the official report.
In the wake of that New Year’s Eve suicide bombing attack that killed those seven CIA operatives in eastern Afghanistan, the military’s highest-ranking officer yesterday underscored the close ties between American armed forces and the U.S. intelligence community, according to John Kruzel of the Armed Services Press Service in a report to the National Association of Chiefs of Police’s Terrorism Committee.
“We’ve worked with the CIA and other agencies extensively since these wars started,” Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a televised interview on the Comedy Channel’s “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart last night
“Basically, it’s very much one team,” he said.
Following the close call on Christmas Day — when a terrorist attempted to detonate a bomb on a plane landing in Detroit — and the killing of the intelligence officers by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan, the White House and the Department of Justice noticeably toned down the vitriol and rhetoric regarding possibly prosecutions of intelligence agents and others involved in so-called aggressive interrogations of terrorism suspects.
“Perhaps the Obama Administration is beginning to realize the important role intelligence and law enforcement officers play in fighting a real war on terrorism,” said a former intelligence officer and New York City detective.
“Alienating and maligning men and women we depend on to fight bloodthirsty terrorists is not a great plan for winning a war or curtailing international crime,” said Det. Mike Snopes.
Military officials acknowledge the CIA’s role in aiding the Northern Alliance, an Afghan separatist movement, in its fight against the Taliban as the U.S. military invasion of Afghanistan began in late 2001, and the agency’s subsequent support of the northern Iraqi Peshmerga fighters opposed to Saddam Hussein’s forces, according to Kruzel.
While some intelligence contractors do not fall under U.S. military command and control, the working relationship between the intelligence and military communities on the whole has improved since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began.
“We work with them. We do it a lot better than we did when these wars started,” Admiral Mullen said. “And that’s really important.”
President Barack Obama cited contributions the agency has made in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in a letter to CIA employees a day after the cold-blooded killings of the American intelligence operatives.
“Since our country was attacked on September 11, 2001, you have served on the front lines in directly confronting the dangers of the 21st century,” Obama wrote. “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,” he said. “Indeed, I know firsthand the excellent quality of your work, because I rely on it every day.”
But the intelligence community in Afghanistan gained other attention this week when a top U.S. military intelligence official had published a report critical of intelligence practices in Afghanistan and proposed sweeping reform. The analysis by Army Major General Michael T. Flynn, the deputy chief of staff for intelligence in Afghanistan, called for overhauling the methods for gathering, integrating and distributing intelligence.
Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said yesterday that the analysis typifies the kind of “candid, critical self-assessment” that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates believes is a sign of a strong and healthy organization.
“Intelligence is critical to our success there, and intelligence over the years has clearly been a challenge that we’ve had to deal with,” Morrell told reporters. “And I think we are all open to suggestions about how we can be doing this better.”
Highlighting the U.S. armed forces’ contribution to the team effort, Mullen called the current military the best he’s ever been associated with in his 40 years of service.
The chairman emphasized the sacrifice military personnel and their families have made since the start of current U.S. conflicts nine years ago.
“They have truly been brilliant and resilient, and they’ve been supported by fabulous families who’ve been through a lot as well. And at the same time are also resilient,” he said. “So I’m actually encouraged, although we’re stretched and stressed, and it’s a real balancing act. There’s no question about that.”
‘Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). Write to mailto:COPmagazine@aol.com’