Thursday’s Headlines: CIA Confirms 7 Employees Killed in Afghan Attack

BY Jason M. Breslow  December 31, 2009 at 9:40 AM EST

Updated 2:20pm ET

The CIA confirmed Thursday that the bombing in Afghanistan killed seven of its employees and wounded six others. In Washington, CIA director Leon Panetta said the seven killed in Wednesday’s attack “were far from home and close to the enemy, doing the hard work that must be done to protect our country from terrorism.”

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The Taliban has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing Wednesday that killed eight Americans on a CIA base in Afghanistan. The bombing marks the deadliest single attack on U.S. intelligence personnel in Afghanistan since the start of the war there in 2001. A spokesman for the Taliban said the bomber was “an Afghan National Army officer wearing a suicide vest.”

The CIA did not comment on the attack at Forward Operating Base Chapman in the eastern province of Khost, which is near the border with Pakistan. However, John E. McLaughlin, a former deputy director for the agency, told the Washington Post the attack is “the nightmare we’ve been anticipating since we went into Afghanistan and Iraq.”


* President Barack Obama is set to receive a report ordered Tuesday detailing how government agencies missed clues that could have prevented 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab from boarding Northwest Airlines flight 253 on Christmas Day with 80 grams of the explosive powder PETN. [The New York Times reports](http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/31/us/31terror.html) that the National Security Agency intercepted conversations by al-Qaida leaders in Yemen discussing a plot to use a Nigerian man in a terrorist attack. However, “American spy agencies later failed to combine the intercepts with other information that might have disrupted last week’s attempted airline bombing,” according to the Times. * [The United Nations is pulling out](http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126225425345211459.html) about a third of its international staff in Pakistan due to security concerns. “Our main priority is to continue all critical operations and to ensure that all our staff in Pakistan can operate in a safe manner,” the organization said in a statement. Eleven U.N. workers have died in Pakistan in 2009. * The number of newly laid-off workers filing claims for unemployment benefits took a surprise dip last week to its lowest level since July 2008. In all, initial jobless claims fell by 22,000 to 432,000 in the week ended December 26, [the Labor Department reported](http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/eta/ui/eta20091574.htm).