Obama thanks CIA for helping track down Bin Laden

Reuters News
Posted: May 20, 2011 3:39 PM
Obama thanks CIA for helping track down Bin Laden

LANGLEY, Virginia (Reuters) - President Barack Obama thanked the country's top spy agency on Friday for helping track down and kill former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and warned remaining members of al Qaeda to watch their backs.

"Make no mistake. This is not over ...," Obama told members of the intelligence community gathered at Central Intelligence Agency headquarters. "We walked off with his files -- the largest treasure trove ever seized from a terrorist leader."

Standing before a memorial wall covered in stars to honor members of the CIA killed in the line of duty, Obama said every al Qaeda leader should be "watching his back."

The CIA shared a significant part of the blame for the intelligence failures that allowed bin Laden to plot the September 11 attacks against the United States, which dealt its reputation and morale a severe blow.

But Obama said the work the CIA had done to track down bin Laden had made a critical difference to the success of the May 2 mission of U.S. Navy SEAL commandos to kill him in Pakistan. He said the agency's secret and generally thankless contribution had been recognized.

"You're often the first ones to get the blame when things go wrong and you're always the last ones to get the credit when things go right," Obama said.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, writing by Alister Bull, editing by Bill Trott)