CIA Director Leon Panetta addressed agency staff in an e-mail today marking the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks tomorrow. With the CIA facing scrutiny over Bush-era torture of detainees and questions about how it should share responsibilities with the FBI and other federal agencies, Panetta used the opportunity to try to boost morale and rally employees.
Panetta's full message is included below:
Message from the Director: September 11th
Tomorrow, our nation as a whole will remember those lost to us eight years ago. For the men and women of the CIA, September 11th is a constant, powerful incentive in the war against al-Qa'ida and its violent sympathizers. Our Agency is at the center of that fight. We have no higher priority or greater focus.
Alone, and with partners in this country and overseas, the CIA has inflicted major losses on a dangerous enemy. Places that al-Qa'ida once counted as safe havens have become less safe. People on whom al-Qa'ida once relied—planners, commanders, facilitators, and trainers—have been taken off the battlefield.
The information the CIA gathers and the actions it takes, crucial as they are, will not by themselves defeat terrorists determined to strike again. Al-Qa'ida's own vicious ideology, founded on the murder of innocent people, has proven to be a major weakness. But we cannot wait for popular disgust to isolate and overcome the extremists. We and our allies must continue to press the offensive, eroding their ability to plot and kill.
It is difficult, hazardous work. But your skill, dedication, and valor make good on our responsibility not only to the memory of those who perished on September 11th, but to their families and to all Americans. We will never forget their sacrifice and we will never rest until we have brought those responsible for this tragedy to justice.
The President has made clear that our mission is to disrupt, defeat, and destroy al-Qa'ida—and that's exactly what we intend to do. It is a privilege for me to work with men and women worthy of so vital a mission. Thank you for serving so well in this fight—and for helping the United States guarantee that no life lost in this attack or battle shall be lost in vain. That is our pledge and our prayer on this September 11th.
Leon E. Panetta