A Portland family is in the nation’s capital Friday, at a ceremony remembering the late Dane Paresi, and others who died in the bombing of a Central Intelligence Agency base in Khost, Afghanistan. April Baer reports.
46-year-old Dane Paresi had just begun a career as a contractor when he was killed in the December 30th suicide bombing of the CIA base in Khost.
| CIA Memorial|
Eyewitness accounts put Paresi closest to the agent who promised to lead analysts to top Al-Quaeda officials, then detonated the bomb that killed him and seven Americans.
Paresi’s brother Terry says Dane never talked about what he did, either in his long Army career or in his new job as a contractor. But he never failed to stay in touch.
Terry Paresi: “You know, out of the blue you‘d get a phone call 'What’s up Bro? What are you doing?' No sense of timing. It’d be early one day, late one night, it’d be the middle of a work day.”
Family members talk about Dane Paresi as a man of tremendous energy, bent on service from a very early age.
Terry Paresi says the family has had a lot to absorb, from the unfolding story of his brother’s military career, to the circumstances of his death.
Terry Paresi “Speaking from our family’s point of view, the first two weeks were just chaotic, just crazy. We just had no idea. He never really told us what he did, so we don’t know how many times he was in harms way when he was on active cut with the military. You almost come to the inner sense maybe he was bulletproof.”
Paresi was a decorated 27-year veteran of the Army, who in 2009 went to work for Xe Services, the military contractor, formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide.
Ceremonies like the one scheduled for today are rare. That the CIA invited the Paresi family hints at the close relationship contractors have come to fill for the agency – and the magnitude of the December 30th bombing.
Brian Fishman is a counterterrorism research fellow with the New America Foundation, a non-profit policy institute. He says the base at Khost was obviously important.
Brian Fishman “We know these people were here, in Khost on the boarder, doing intel about Taliban movements. The agency and military presumably have overlapping networks for targeting. This is a serious blow”
The Pakistani press has noted an increase in U.S. drone attacks since the Khost bombing. But Fishman says he thinks the idea of a CIA revenge campaign is overly simplistic.
But, he adds U.S. leaders are under pressure to explain the presence of contractors like Xe. Fisher says they’re fundamental to overseas intelligence missions, but the Taliban has used their presence to rally support in the Afghan and Pakistani theaters.
Paresi family members haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about the role of contractors as they grieve for Dane. Terry Paresi says what’s left is an outsized impression of an outsized man, who loved his family.
Terry Paresi “Over last month I’ve tried hard to remember was he ever really negative in any conversation we ever had. He was just always positive, always the bright light in the dark room."