US spies failed to vet Khowst bomber: CIA

An independent task force, appointed by Panetta to look into the tragic incident, stated this in its report. "In this case, the task force determined that the Khowst assailant was not fully vetted and that sufficient security precautions were not taken," Panetta said yesterday in a statement.

"These missteps occurred because of shortcomings across several Agency components in areas including communications, documentation, and management oversight. Coupled with a powerful drive to disrupt al-Qaida, these factors contributed to the tragedy at Khowst," he said.

"Each played an important role, none was more important than the others. Based on the findings of the task force and the independent review, responsibility cannot be assigned to any particular individual or group," Panetta said.

The CIA lost seven officials in a terrorist attack at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khowst, Afghanistan. "These dedicated men and women were assigned to CIA's top priority—disrupting and dismantling al-Qaida and its militant allies," he said.

"The task force noted that the Khowst assailant fit the description of someone who could offer us access to some of our most vicious enemies. He had already provided information that was independently verified," he said.

"The decision to meet him at the Khowst base with the objective of gaining additional intelligence on high priority terrorist targets was the product of consultations between Headquarters and the field. "He had confirmed access within extremist circles, making a covert relationship with him — if he was acting in good faith—potentially very productive. But he had not rejected his terrorist roots. He was, in fact, a brutal murderer," Panetta said.

The CIA Director said he has approved 23 specific actions recommended by the task force, including establishing a War Zone Board to conduct a baseline review of staffing, training, security, and resources in the most dangerous areas where they operate.

He has also approved the recommendation to expand the training effort for both managers and officers on hostile environments and counter-intelligence challenges, and creation of an integrated counter-intelligence vetting cell within the Counterterrorism Center, Panetta added.

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