CIA now better prepared for challenges: Panetta

Washington, July 01: Terming the killing of Osama bin Laden as one of the “greatest successes” in the CIA’s history, its outgoing Director Leon Panetta said that the agency is now much stronger and better prepared for the challenges and opportunities.

Panetta now heads to Pentagon as the Defense Secretary. As Central Intelligence Agency(CIA) head in the last 28 months, Panetta oversaw the agency pass through different phases, from its seven officials being killed by al Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan to the successful daring raid on May 2 in Abbottabad that killed the Al-Qaeda chief.

“I flew some 200,000 miles to visit Stations and Bases in 35 countries, and dealt with virtually every overseas challenge our nation faces,” Panetta said in his farewell message. “Along the way, we made our Agency stronger and better prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the future,” he said.

During his tenure as CIA chief, Panetta travelled to India twice and has been the driving force behind much stronger intelligence sharing and cooperation between the two countries.

“Emotionally, this job took me to both the depths and heights, from hearing we had lost seven of our own at Khowst, to the moment that sealed one of the greatest successes in our Agency’s history ridding the world of Osama bin Ladin,” Panetta wrote in his farewell message.

“We had one hell of a ride together. In answering the President’s call to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its allies, we launched the most aggressive counter-terrorism operations in our history,” he said.

“We helped him chart a way forward for the war in Afghanistan, and manage the revolutionary changes in the Middle East and North Africa. We countered the development of dangerous weapons by rogue governments, and applied our unique strengths to fighting the cyber threat. And, thanks to some great tradecraft and amazing technical skill, we made critical progress in penetrating hard targets around the world,” Panetta said.

“We strengthened our crucial ties to the people’s representatives in Congress and built even closer working relationships with the DNI, our partners in the Community, and the war fighters,” he said.

“We deepened our commitment to advance workforce diversity, and redoubled our efforts to enhance our foreign language capabilities. By focusing on the development of our people, technology, and infrastructure, our agency is on track with our five-year plan to become even more efficient and agile in the years to come,” Panetta said.