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On The Death Of A CIA Officer In Afghanistan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
28 November 2001

STATEMENT BY GEORGE J. TENET, DIRECTOR OF CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE,
ON THE DEATH OF A CIA OFFICER IN AFGHANISTAN

It is my sad duty to announce that one of our officers at the Central Intelligence Agency has died in the line of duty in Afghanistan.

Johnny Micheal "Mike" Spann, who worked in the Directorate of Operations, was where he wanted to be: on the front lines serving his country.

Given the nature of the CIA's mission, I can publicly discuss his activities and the circumstances surrounding his death only in broad terms.

Mike was in the fortress of Mazar-e Sharif, where Taliban prisoners were being held and questioned. Although these captives had given themselves up, their pledge of surrender-like so many other pledges from the vicious group they represent-proved worthless.

Their prison uprising--which had murder as its goal--claimed many lives, among them that of a very brave American, whose body was recovered just hours ago.

Mike joined CIA in June 1999. A young man-only 32 years old-he was no stranger to challenge or daring. He came to us from the United States Marine Corps, whose traditions he loved and whose values of courage and commitment he carried with him to the end.

Quiet, serious, and absolutely unflappable, Mike's stoicism concealed a dry sense of humor and a heart of gold. His brand of leadership was founded not on words, but on deeds-deeds performed in conditions of hazard and hardship.

His was a career of promise in a life of energy and achievement. A precious life given in a noble cause. Mike fell bringing freedom to a distant people while defending freedom for all of us here at home.

Mike Spann was an American hero, a man who showed passion for his country and his Agency through his selfless courage. Mike Spann will live forever in our memories. May God grant him eternal peace and give his wonderful family the strength to carry on.

His CIA family, too, is in mourning. But just as we grieve together, we work together to continue the mission that Mike Spann held sacred. And so we will continue our battle against evil-with renewed strength and spirit.

We owe that to Mike and to every man and woman who dreams of a future free of the menace of terrorism.

Johnny Micheal "Mike" Spann was the husband of Shannon Spann, and is survived by his infant son, two young daughters, and two sisters. He was the son of Johnny and Gail Spann of Winfield, Alabama.

Details about memorial services and funeral arrangements have not yet been determined.

###

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