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Biden lauds CIA for ‘exposing Putin’s playbook’ before Russia’s Ukraine invasion

President Joe Biden thanked the CIA for ‘exposing Putin’s playbook’ before Russia invaded Ukraine in a speech at the agency’s headquarters to make its 75th anniversary.

He praised CIA agents as the ‘bedrock of our national security’ while standing in front of a Memorial Wall of 139 stars that represent agents who were killed in the line of duty. The names of 37 agents are classified until this day, according to the CIA.

During his address the president also mentioned the ‘profound impact’ of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent assassination. Biden had stopped at Japan’s embassy in Washington, DC to express his condolences before heading to Langley, Virginia.

Biden told agents of one of the most secretive bodies in the world it was their duty to ‘prevent plots or threats.’

‘Where possible we have to seek to balance secrecy with transparency,’ the president said. ‘To shine a light on atrocities and prevent plots or threats, or acts of aggression before they happen.’

He added that ‘the greatest value of our intelligence collection is the good we do with it.’

Earlier in the speech Biden credited the CIA’s intelligence-gathering efforts on Russian President Vladimir Putin as having ‘punched a hole’ in the autocrat’s plan to invade Ukraine.

President Joe Biden delivered a speech at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia to mark the secretive agency’s 75th anniversary

‘It’s indispensable to me, as I face some of the difficult decisions,  and have the best possible information provided by the most capable, reliable intelligence community in the world. Again, not hyperbole, you are clearly the best in the whole world,’ Biden said. 

‘It was thanks to the incredible work of our intelligence professionals that we were able to forewarn the world what Vladimir Putin was planning in Ukraine.’

The US intelligence community was praised by both Republicans and Democrats this year for its swift and accurate reports on Putin’s troop buildup on Ukraine’s border and warnings of an imminent attack.

Reports indicated that Putin had been planning to invade the neighboring country weeks before he launched the assault on February 24.

‘We saw what he was doing. You saw it. The forces he was amassing, the plans he was making, exposing Putin’s playbook, punch the gigantic hole in the pretense, and discredited his lies about what we were doing in Ukraine,’ the president said on Friday.

He added that they did it ‘without revealing sources and methods that had been critical to our ability to rally our allies and partners around the world.’

Biden also commended the agency’s growing ‘diversity’ and urged its officers to always deliver him the truth, whether it’s damaging or positive.

‘Our intelligence is more robust when we tap the full strength of our diversity as a nation. My first trip here years ago, I looked out and there wasn’t nearly as much diversity as there is today,’ the president said. 

He credited the CIA with 'punching a hole' in Vladimir Putin's plans to invade Ukraine with its swift and accurate intelligence reports

He credited the CIA with ‘punching a hole’ in Vladimir Putin’s plans to invade Ukraine with its swift and accurate intelligence reports

‘If everyone brings the same ideas, the same experience the same skill sets to work, we leave some pretty big blind spots in our security.’

He said the CIA often fielded ‘big questions, the hardest questions’ and conceded that intelligence assessments cannot always be ‘100 percent right.’

But it does mean that I expect you to tell me the truth, no matter what,’ Biden said.

‘I expect each of you to honor the democratic values and ideals that form the core of our nation’s strength.’

It’s a stark departure from his predecessor’s controversial speech at CIA Headquarters in 2017.

Donald Trump had spent a significant portion of his remarks in front of the CIA Memorial Wall griping about the ‘dishonest media,’ boasting about the crowd size at one of his appearances and discussing a bust of Winston Churchill in the Oval Office.

‘I am so behind you,’ Trump told the roughly 400 agents in attendance.

‘You’re gonna get so much backing. Maybe you’re gonna say, please, don’t give us so much backing, Mr. President, please, we don’t need that much backing.’

Former CIA Director John Brennan was ‘deeply saddened and angered at Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes,’ his former deputy chief of staff wrote on Twitter.