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CIA Officer Is Buried at Arlington

TerrorismDeathUnrest, Conflicts and WarCentral Intelligence AgencyAfghanistanFamilyTaliban

CIA officer Johnny "Mike" Spann was remembered as an American hero as he was buried Monday with full military honors amid the white grave markers of Arlington National Cemetery.

"From his earliest days . . . he worked to do what was right," CIA Director George J. Tenet told those gathered, including many members of the CIA. "It was in the quest for right that Mike at his country's call went to Afghanistan. To that place of danger and terror he sought to bring justice and freedom."

Spann, the only American known so far to die in Afghanistan during a direct clash with enemies, was "an American hero," Tenet said.

Spann knew that "information saved lives and that collection is a risk worth taking," Tenet said.

Spann's widow, Shannon, carried her infant son, wrapped in a white blanket against the chilly day, to the flag-draped coffin. Spann's two young daughters and other family members stood nearby.

"I want to tell you my husband is a hero," Shannon Spann said. "Mike is a hero not because of the way he died but because of the way he lived."

Three soldiers killed in Afghanistan last Wednesday when a U.S. bomb exploded near their position also were memorialized Monday, during a ceremony at Ft. Campbell, Ky. They were Master Sgt. Jefferson Donald Davis, 39, of Watauga, Tenn.; Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Henry Petithory, 32, of Cheshire, Mass.; and Staff Sgt. Brian Cody Prosser, 28, of Frazier Park, Calif.

"Children are able to laugh, play and sing because of what they did," Lt. Col. Frank Hudson, the men's deputy commander, told a crowd of mourners that overflowed Memorial Chapel.

In Berlin, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell revealed Monday that he had met secretly with Spann's partner and other intelligence colleagues on a stop during the secretary's eight-day tour of Europe and Central Asia.

"All of us should be proud that there are men like Michael Spann who are willing to go in harm's way for their nation and to serve the cause of freedom," Powell said during a news conference with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer.

The meeting with Spann's colleagues occurred in Uzbekistan, which borders Afghanistan. Powell did not indicate when the meeting took place, although he was in the Central Asian nation over the weekend.

Spann was shot and killed Nov. 25 during an uprising of Taliban prisoners near the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif. Shortly before the clash, he interviewed captured Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters, including American John Walker Lindh.

Spann received full military honors from the Marine Corps, where he was a captain of artillery before joining the intelligence service about two years ago.

The length of Spann's military service did not qualify him for burial at Arlington, but, at his family's request, President Bush signed a waiver allowing him to be buried there, a White House spokesman said.

The CIA will hold a private service for him today, agency spokesman Mark Mansfield said.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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