"Henry" From 9/11 Commission Report Revealed

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Last month, Henry "Hank" Crumpton, a revered master of CIA covert operations, formally came in from the cold.

Crumpton gained almost mythical fame after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks -- always anonymously. He is the mysterious "Henry" in the Sept. 11 commission report, which notes he persistently pressed the CIA to do more in Afghanistan before Osama bin Laden's terrorist spectaculars. Two key proposals to track al Qaeda were turned down.

Tapped to head the CIA's Afghan campaign after the attacks, Crumpton is "Hank" in Gary C. Schroen's "First In: An Insider's Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan" and Bob Woodward's "Bush at War." Both books recount how Crumpton crafted a strategy partnering elite intelligence and military officers in teams that worked with the Afghan opposition to oust the Taliban. The novel and initially controversial approach worked at limited cost in human life and materiel -- and avoided the kind of protracted U.S. ground war that the Soviet Union lost.

It also changed the way the United States fights terrorism.

"Hank was a tough, focused, brave operator and an excellent organizer. His work was invaluable," said Gen. Tommy Franks, now retired, who was in charge of Central Command during the Afghan war and the initial Iraq invasion.

Added John E. McLaughlin, former acting CIA director now at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, "He's a genuine American hero."

Now, after almost a quarter-century as a spy or station chief on at least four continents, Crumpton has emerged from undercover to take the job as State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism -- with the very public rank of ambassador.

The move surprised colleagues. Crumpton says he had wanted to be a spy since childhood, when he first wrote to the CIA. "And they responded -- on letterhead. In a small rural community in Georgia, to get a letter from the CIA, that was pretty cool," he reflected in his first interview since taking the job.

After joining the agency in 1981, Crumpton cut his teeth in Liberia during its disintegration into tribal clashes. ...Most of his work since then is still secret, although Crumpton was deeply involved in probing the 1998 al Qaeda bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania as well as the 2000 boat bombing of the USS Cole off Yemen, colleagues say.

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