Statement to Employees on 9/11 Anniversary
September 11, 2006
Today marks five years since our nation came under brutal attack. September 11th, 2001 was a day that saw the sharpest extremes of human behavior: fanatics filled with hatred who targeted the innocent, and heroes whose compassion for others outweighed concern for their own lives.
We witnessed horror on an almost incomprehensible scale. But we also saw with perfect clarity what is best and most inspiring in life: courage and compassion, the strong helping the weak.
September 11th was a stark reminder that the values America upholds in the world are worth fighting for. And the old saying that freedom is never free was given new truth and immediacy.
Some of you have joined CIA in the past five years as part of our greatest recruiting drive ever. Just as Pearl Harbor rallied an earlier generation to national service, you came here because you wanted to be at the forefront of protecting our country.
For those of us already serving on that fateful Tuesday, it was an unforgettable blow to see the terrible consequences of a plot we had not been able to prevent. But as intelligence officers, we had to set aside our shock and focus on our vital work so that those responsible could be identified, the President and Congress could act, and justice could be done.
Many of us remember those days and weeks after September 11th as the busiest and most intense of our careers. But our hard work was its own reward. We in the Intelligence Community felt privileged to carry the fight to the enemy.
Whether you have been directly engaged in that fight, or you have been working the wide range of other foreign challenges that did not vanish on September 11th, you can be very proud of our achievements in the past five years.
The Community adapted quickly to a new type of war, one in which intelligence is at the vanguard. And CIA has played a consistent, central role, from planning the downfall of the Taliban regime to spearheading the human and technical clandestine operations that have scored some of our nation’s greatest successes.
In five years, more than 5,000 terrorists have been captured or killed. Al-Qa‘ida’s core operational leadership has been decimated, and their successors are in hiding or on the run.
Working closely with our colleagues throughout the US Government and our foreign liaison partners, we have broken cells of al-Qa‘ida operatives, associates, and sympathizers around the world. Although the enemy, intelligent and resilient, has managed to launch attacks in Europe, Asia, and Africa, many potential catastrophes have been averted.
Our mission is indeed a privilege, but it’s also a profound responsibility. The American people are counting on us to protect them.
So too are men, women, and children worldwide who want nothing more than to lead their lives in freedom and safety. For the terrorists we pursue not only are enemies of the United States—they are enemies of civilization, of progress, and of mankind.
Five years into this campaign, we cannot say when victory will come. But we now know the enemy and understand his methods with far greater depth and precision. We took the initiative early and have held it, forcing our targets to spend most of their time looking over their shoulder. And our resolve to eliminate the threat they pose to humanity only strengthens with time.
We draw inspiration from many sources.
We remember our obligation to our families, our friends, our hometowns, and to the free and tolerant society we have inherited from past generations of Americans. Safeguarding all that we hold dear is both motivation and mission for our Agency.
We remember those brave CIA men and women memorialized by 83 stars on the wall of our lobby. Four honor Mike Spann, Helge Boes, Chris Mueller, and William Carlson, who fell while serving in Afghanistan. They exemplify the valor and devotion to duty to which we all aspire.
And we will always remember the precious lives taken five years ago, including seven of our DIA colleagues at the Pentagon. To them, and to their loved ones, we dedicate our tireless fight against those who would inflict grief and misery on our human family.
On this day, the most fitting commemoration we can provide is to continue that high tempo we’ve maintained for the past five years. Your extraordinary talent and commitment to our nation’s security offer the greatest tribute we can pay to the memory of the fallen, and to the spirit of those who answered the call on one of the darkest days in our country’s history.
Thank you for all your hard work, and may we always be worthy of the great Republic we serve.