thanked the intelligence community Friday for its role in the successful raid that led to
, saying it made the "critical difference" in the "most significant victory yet in our war to defeat
On a visit to the headquarters of the
in Langley, Va., Obama hailed workers for their efforts performed in obscurity, putting together the pieces that allowed the United States to locate the terrorist mastermind.
"You're often the first ones to get the blame when things go wrong, and you're always the last ones to get the credit when things go right," Obama said. "So when things do go right -- and they do more often than the world will ever know -- we ought to celebrate your success."
Obama spoke to about 1,000 CIA employees after meeting privately with senior agency leaders and the group that had been closely involved in the hunt forBin Laden. He was introduced by outgoing director
, his nominee to replace
at the Pentagon.
In his remarks, Obama thanked CIA workers for "[redoubling] your efforts" to locateBin Laden after he urged Panetta to make it a priority. As he recounted discussions in the weeks and months leading up to the May 1 raid, the president again noted that his team was not unanimous on the question of whether to go ahead with the raid.
"I put my bet on you," he said. "Now the whole world knows that that faith in you was justified."
As significant asBin Laden's killing was, so was the ability to seize a "treasure trove" of new information from his compound, something that intelligence workers will be pouring through for years.
"Today every terrorist in the Al Qaeda network should be watching their back," he said. "We are going to pursue every lead, we are going to go wherever it takes us. We are going to finish the job."
Obama made the short trip to Virginia two weeks after a trip to Ft. Campbell in
, where he met with members of the special forces team that performed the daring mission in
. Days earlier, he visited Ground Zero in
to pay tribute to the victims of the
attacks Bin Laden had ordered.
It was his third visit to the CIA as president.