President Obama visited CIA headquarters in northern Virginia on Friday to congratulate and thank the intelligence community for their work in taking down Usama bin Laden and for their daily work in keeping America safe.
Speaking before 1,000 people, Obama told the workers, "You stayed focused on your mission. You honored the memory of your fallen colleagues. In helping to locate and take down Usama bin Laden, you made it possible for us to achieve the most significant victory yet in our war to defeat Al Qaeda."
The president acknowledged the difficulty of intelligence jobs, saying that part of the challenge of their work is the necessity to keep information secret. "I know that carries a heavy burden," Obama said. "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. So when things do go right and they do more often than the world will ever know. We've got to celebrate your success."
In talking about how much he appreciated the information he received about bin Laden, the president got some laughs and cheers when he joked about the leak-prone atmosphere in the nation's capital, saying "we did something truly remarkable in Washington, we kept it a secret."
Prior to his remarks, Obama met privately with about 60 CIA and intelligence officers involved in the Usama bin Laden operation. He thanked them personally for their hard work over the last ten years.
The speech was set in the Original Headquarters Lobby in front of a wall with 102 stars on it, each honoring an intelligence officer killed in the line of duty. This was the president's third trip to CIA headquarters since taking office in January of 2009.