White House Mistakenly Outs CIA Kabul Chief During Obama Visit

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 26 2014 12:48 PM

White House Mistakenly Outs CIA Kabul Chief During Obama Visit

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US President Barack Obama greets US troops during a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Sunday.

Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

The White House mistakenly outed the CIA’s top official in Kabul as part of a routine press briefing during President Obama’s surprise visit to Afghanistan over the weekend. The CIA operative was inadvertently included as “Chief of Station” in Kabul on a list provided to the press of 15 U.S. officials taking part in a military briefing during the presidential visit.

Here’s more from the Washington Post on how the CIA officer’s cover was blown.

[The] names were included on a list of participants in the briefing provided by U.S. military officials to the White House press office. The list was circulated by e-mail to reporters who traveled to Afghanistan with Obama, and disseminated further when it was included in a “pool report,” or summary of the event meant to be shared with other news organizations, including foreign media, not taking part in the trip.
In this case, the pool report was filed by Washington Post White House bureau chief Scott Wilson. Wilson said he had copied the list from the e-mail provided by White House press officials. He sent his pool report to the press officials, who then distributed it to a list of more than 6,000 recipients.
Initially, the press office raised no objection, apparently because military officials had provided the list to distribute to news organizations. But senior White House officials realized the mistake and scrambled to issue an updated list without the CIA officer’s name. The mistake, however, already was being noted on Twitter, although without the station chief’s name.
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Neither the White House nor the CIA has commented on the disclosure and media outlets have been asked to refrain from publishing the operative’s name by the White House. It remains unclear whether the CIA officer will be removed from Afghanistan following the mistake.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.