Saturday, January 2, 2010

For CIA, Afghan Attack a Historic Blow

"WASHINGTON - A suicide attack in Afghanistan that killed seven agents marks one of the deadliest blows ever for the CIA, dealing a painful setback to an agency increasingly on the frontline of US wars.......

While more than 500 US and coalition forces have died in Afghanistan this year, Wednesday's suicide attack may show a new level of sophistication for the Taliban who infiltrated the very agency in charge of finding them.

The CIA said that a Taliban bomber managed to penetrate the defenses of a forward base in Khost, a pivotal province near the Pakistan border, detonating an explosives belt in a room described as a gym. "This attack is something that will never be forgotten in Langley, Virginia," said Jack Rice, a former CIA officer in Afghanistan and talk-show host. "The impact can be huge, not just in terms of the capabilities of these particular people, but in the relationships that they themselves have built," he said. "You can't simply go pick up five or 10 more of these guys. They may be the best guys in the world at what they do and they're gone," he said......

It was the deadliest single incident for the CIA since 1983, when eight agency employees were believed to be among the dead when Islamic militants bombed the US Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 Americans and 58 French.

The attack comes as the United States increasingly relies on the CIA and other covert forces to pursue strategic goals. CIA and special forces were at the forefront of the US invasion of Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks, paving the way to overthrow the Taliban's extremist regime.

More recently -- and controversially -- the CIA has been operating unmanned drones that target extremists in lawless areas of Pakistan....."

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