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WITHDRAWAL NOTICE

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WITHDRAWAL NOTICE

RG: 148 Exposition, Anniversary, and Memorial Commissions


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WITHDRAWAL NOTICE

RG: 148 Exposition, Anniversary, and Memorial Commissions


SERIES: Team 3,9/11 Commission
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WITHDRAWAL DATE: 11/18/2008

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9/11 Classified Information

WITHDRAWAL NOTICE
An American Hero

C. Michael Hurley

Andrews Air Force Base, Washington, D.C., February 9, on a


tarmac of tears. At precisely 11:00 A.M. the massive,
green-gray United States Air Force C-17, with the Stars and
Stripes emblazoned on its towering tail, slowly rolled to a
stop. Arriving from Afghanistan, it had just carried 32
year-old Helge Boes on his final journey home. Helge's
family stood in silent sorrow near the plane as an Air
Force Color Guard gently placed his flag-draped casket in
an awaiting hearse. Just behind his family, many officers
of the Central Intelligence Agency's Counterterrorism
Center, choked with emotion, paid their respects to their
fallen friend and colleague. Helge—husband, son, brother,
friend, and lawyer—was a CIA officer. On February 5 he
died in a tragic accident in northeastern Afghanistan. It
was his second deployment to the country. Americans need
to know what we lost that day, because we lost so much.

In spring 2002, having just completed months of rigorous


training culminating in his certification as a CIA
Operations Officer, He~Tge was one of the first of his peer
group to volunteer for service in Afghanistan. I first met
him in Kabul in early April where he was one of many
dedicated officers acquiring the intelligence needed to
shape the decisions of Washington policy makers. He told
me that he would "give anything to go down range" in
Afghanistan, the better to track and locate the Al-Qa'ida
perpetrators of 9/11. "Do I have a place for you," I said.

And so, four weeks later, a helicopter, having weaved


through treacherous mountain passes, its pilots relying on
infra-red-vision devices, swooped down and dropped him in
the dead of night at a U.S. Forward-Firebase in a remote,
high desert in southeastern Afghanistan, as sporadic
gunfire from our unseen enemy whistled past. It was then
among the harshest and most dauntingly hostile environments
in which CIA officers and military counterparts were
operating: Pockets of terrorists and hard-core Taliban
threatened from the mountains that ringed the site;
Operation Anaconda, the largest military campaign against
terrorists in Afghanistan, had ended only weeks before his
arrival; Irrational, recalcitrant warlords heightened the
regional dangers by launching frequent, unannounced attacks
against ethnic rivals, the cross-fire placing American and
allied personnel in dire and constant jeopardy; And land
mines were everywhere, and could leap out of the ground
like lethal fiends. In coming to this outpost, Helge went
as far out on the pointed-end of the spear as one can reach
in our fight against our enemies.

This young officer rolled up his sleeves and went to work,


unfazed by wretched living conditions in a mud-walled hut -
with no heat and no running water. Aware of the high
threat—how could he not be? During his time deployed
forward our garrison was mortared, rocketed, and machine-
gunned; and our adversaries emplaced mines on routes we
could not avoid—he was undeterred by it, remained cool and_
composed, and performed his work with steadfast resolution.
Helge7s first responsibility was to collect intelligence on
Al-Qa'ida; he did this commendably. His reporting was
razor-sharp, brilliant, and witty.

The admiration he won from the local Afghan population


helped advance directly another priority: protecting the
U.S. and Coalition Forces deployed in the area. In his
first days, Helge helped deliver life-saving medicine to
local hospitals and needed supplies to the impoverished
—girls' and boys' open-air schools on the edges of our ~
compound. Such humanitarian aid impressed on suspicious
locals that our presence was benevolent, that we were not
like the Soviet occupiers of Afghanistan. He unfailingly
treated the Afghans with dignity and decency. His
incandescent, 10,000-watt smile gave them hope that the
Americans would stay, and helped pull them out of their
misery. And they responded by warning us of imminent enemy
operations that would do us harm.

Educated at Harvard Law School, Helge put his legal


training to work in ways neither he, nor I daresay his
professors, likely ever envisioned. In a setting
reminiscent of a cross between Mad Max and the Old
Testament, in a series of confrontations held in tents with
menacing warlords interested—only in expanding their power,
Helge, with impressive self-assurance and firmness,
rationally dissected their positions, and exposed their
demands for what they were: nothing more than self-
aggrandizement .
What in his background could have prepared Helge for
directing a 1,000-man Afghan militia? For functioning as
paymaster, quartermaster, and all-around problem solver?
Yet he rose to the occasion brilliantly. He commanded—
that's the right word—the respect of tough-as-nails
mujahedin fighters. They were mesmerized by Helge's quick
mind and decision-making ability, and followed his
instructions as though they came from a senior American
general.

Experience with U.S. soldiers in military interventions


over the past decade taught that they could regard with a
stiff dose of skepticism civilians, albeit ones possessing
elegant, academic credentials, who were short on their
combat experience and who at first blush may have appeared
to lack their survival skills and fortitude. The old way
of thinking was that the military had no credibility with
civilians and, conversely, the civilians none with the
military.

In the current environment, to defeat terrorism the


military and civilians have had to invent a new way of
fighting. Sometimes it is hard to recognize the new
tactics as they are evolving. Helge was in on the ground
floor of this development and helped cement it. He was
deployed side-by-side with, shared the same discomfort and
faced the same dangers as, battle-h-ardened, grizzled
Special Forces troops with scorching experience wrung from
hellholes all over the world, and with decorated soldiers
from our nation's most highly-trained hostage-rescue and
reconnaissance units, and with the best of our principal
allies' military elite. These were, in short, tough
customers. In their world, the highest compliment they
could pay to anyone—and it was reserved for a very few—was
to describe him as "high speed". After seeing Helge in
action, many of them gave him the nickname "High Speed."
They also called him "brother", and so did we all.

Try as he might, it was impossible for Helge to keep his


extraordinary gifts, his high-octane intellect under a
bushel basket: his brain gave off too much candlepower for
that. He listened to the military and gave his views.
Invariably, they were so well-reasoned, they could not be
argued with. He led through example, arrogance was not
part of his make-up, and this was not lost on his military
colleagues. On learning of Helge's death, a hard-nosed
"I've-seen-it-all-done-it-all" Staff Sergeant whose
detachment was deployed with Helge summed up his unit's
opinion of him: "We believe we had the best team in
Afghanistan," he said, "and Helge was one of the reasons.
It sure did help to face the challenges with highest
quality officers like him." Fostering that credibility,
degree of trust, and mutual respect was, in itself,
invaluable to the country.

There were no diversions at our compound: no cable, no


CNN, no Internet, no movies. So we invented our own
entertainment to take the edge off the stress. We built a
fire circle and each night we—Agency officers, American and
Allied Soldiers, and our Afghan commanders—would gather
around a wood-stoked blaze and stare, sometimes transfixed,
at the flames. We called it "Ranger T.V." Our
surroundings were bleak; at the same time there was a raw
beauty to the desert. At 7,500 feet elevation-with no city
lights we could easily recognize constellations. The
proximity of a roaming enemy and ever-present tracer fire
served to focus the mind and stimulate conversation, made
us think of what we missed, what was important. Around the
fire in this godforsaken place, Helge spoke of his love for
his wife, his family, and his country. I learned- he had a
broad-ranging, incisive mind and was intensely interested
in government and politics._ He said that one day he hoped
to serve on the National Security Council to help craft
policy. With—his boots-on-the-ground experience he would
have brought to that organization a much-needed
perspective.

During one of these sessions, curiosity impelled me to ask


why Helge had left the practice of law. He said that he
had only left it in one sense, after all he was helping
establish the rule of law in Afghanistan and aiding in
bringing to justice murderous criminals. He explained that
he had left traditional practice to seek something more
meaningful. He said that he wanted to be among those who
were doing incredible things in defense of the United
States, in defense of freedom, and that is why he had come
to CIA.

When I think of Helge, I think of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.


Like JFK, Helge was intelligent, attractive and
charismatic. In Profiles in Courage, Kennedy defined
courage as "grace under pressure" and wrote "a man does
what he must—in spite of personal consequences, in spite of
obstacles and dangers and pressures." A providential
characteristic of our country is that in times of crisis
and peril it produces leaders of admirable ability and
courage. Sometimes they are found selling saddles in
Galena, Illinois; sometimes they come from Harvard Law
School. Although junior in tenure, Helge Boes had the
makings of a leader, and based on snippets from many
conversations, it became clear he believed that to assert a
moral claim to leadership he had to risk it all. I always
had the sense, although he never would have said it, that
Helge volunteered to lead the fight against terrorism
because he knew he was the best, and that therefore it was
his duty.

True heroism may be broader than specific acts of bravery.


It is best exhibited in self-sacrifice, doing hard things
in hard places, sustained effort to achieve a worthy goal.
Helge, who could have led a sedate and monetarily enriching
life as a high-powered lawyer, chose to put himself in
harm's way to protect his country—that is ipso facto
heroic. _

The pain to Helge Boes's family is unbearable. Like them


we will mourn him for the rest of our days. But like them,
too, we will take deep and lasting pride in what he
achieved, the adversity he overcame, what he stood for, and
what he contributed to our common good and security. Helge
Boes gave his prodigious talents and his "last futi measure
of devotion" to the United States. The country must
remember him; he is an American hero.

Michael Hurley works in The Counterterrorism Center and was


deployed with Helge Boes in southeastern Afghanistan in
spring 2002
Mike Hurley
From: Daniel Byman
Sent: Monday, May 10, 2004 11:24 AM
To: Gordon Lederman; Serena Wille; John Roth; Scott Allan; Nicole Grandrimo; Caroline Barnes
Cc: Mike Hurley
Subject: Section 9.3

I've sent you this section by classified e-mail. Please review your own subsection and
make any necessary changes in _tracking mode_ and return it to me by classified e-mail.
Please also fix any missing/incomplete footnotes.

I would also welcome your thoughts on the section as a whole. Right now it sprawls, which
may be the nature of the best. It is meant to be a transition chapter, so I've avoided
the hard analysis (which will appear later in the report). I'm assuming the FO will
modify it substantially to make sure it serves as the proper bridge between the 9/11
sections of the report and the "recommendations for today" section.

I'll be passing this along by COB Wed, so please try to pass me your changes by then.
Dan
Page 1 of 1

Mike Hurley

From: Mike Hurley


Sent: Monday, May 10, 2004 10:53 AM
To: Team 3
Subject: CMH Section 9.2

Team:

If you get a chance over the next day or so, give my draft Section 9.2 a
glance. Don't use the version I emailed to your classified email. I've
tweaked it since then, and incorporated comments from Scott and Len
(who looked at an early version).

Suggest you just go to classified/shared/cru/t3/team 3 final reports


sections/CMH Section 9.2 and print off a hard copy.

I wouldn't spend a lot of time on it. You all have your own work to do.

Warren intends to spend a bit of time on it.

I'd like to move it forward to Stephanie in the next couple of days.

Thanks,

Mike

5/10/2004
Page 1 of 1

Mike Hurley

From: Daniel Byman


Sent: Monday, May 10, 2004 12:30 PM
To: Gordon Lederman; Nicole Grandrimo; Serena Wille; John Roth; Kelly Moore; Scott Allan; Caroline
Barnes
Cc: Mike Hurley
Subject: Section 9.3

Is attached. Please review your section and make all the necessary edits and changes (including footnotes) in
_tracking_ mode. Comments on the rest of the draft very welcome. As I explained in my unclass e-mail, this is
neither fish nor fowl, so I'm not happy with the current emphasis on description over analysis, though I did check
this with the FO.

I hope to put this to bed by COB Wednesday.

Thanks again for all your help.


Dan

5/10/2004
Page 1 of 1

Mike Hurley
From: Warren Bass
Sent: Sunday, May 09, 2004 4:05 PM
To: Tom Dowling
Cc: Chris Kojm; Mike Hurley
Subject: NSC materials

Tom,

With Chris's blessing, I've sent along some draft writing that I've done for the final report. You can find it in your
classified email; just let me know if somehow didn't come through.
The writing is based off of NSC materials in 1998-99, and it features some interesting tidbits along the way related
to AQ ties with several Arab states. Chris and I both thought you should see this stuff.
I'm still not sure what use will be made of the piece; Philip asked me to write it up Friday to try to ensure that the
NSC side of the story continued to be told in chapter 3 (which had been split up into intel, military, and diplomatic
sections). So some of this material might be used in other sections, perhaps including yours. Anyway, hope this is
helpful.
Warren

5/9/2004
Page 1 of 1

Mike Hurley

From: Warren Bass


Sent: Friday, May 07, 2004 8:58 PM
To: Stephanie Kaplan; Antwion Blount
Cc: Team 3
Subject: NSC additions to chapter 3

Here's the addition that Philip suggested.

Warren

5/8/2004
WITHDRAWAL NOTICE

RG: 148 Exposition, Anniversary, and Memorial Commissions


SERIES: Team 3, 9/11 Commission
NND PROJECT NUMBER: 52100 FOIA CASE NUMBER: 31107

WITHDRAWAL DATE: 11/18/2008

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The item identified below has been withdrawn from this file:

FOLDER TITLE: Final Report Sections [3of 3]

DOCUMENT DATE: DOCUMENT TYPE: Draft

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SUBJECT: Section 9.3

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WITHDRAWAL NOTICE
Page 1 of 1

Mike Hurley

From: Mike Hurley


Sent: Wednesday, June 02, 2004 4:52 PM
To: Stephanie Kaplan
Cc: Team 3
Subject: Team 3 Chapter 5 edits

Stephanie and Team 3,

Please check your classified email for a message from me


containing as an attachment Team 3's edits to Chapter 5.

Thanks,

Mike

6/2/2004
WITHDRAWAL NOTICE

RG: 148 Exposition, Anniversary, and Memorial Commissions


SERIES: Team 3,9/11 Commission
NND PROJECT NUMBER: 52100 FOIA CASE NUMBER: 31107

WITHDRAWAL DATE: 11/18/2008

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