White House ‘investigating’ inadvertent naming of CIA station chief
May 29, 2014 Leave a comment
By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org
United States government officials are said to be investigating the apparently inadvertent disclosure of the name of America’s senior spy in Afghanistan last weekend. The Washington Post reported on Sunday that the name of the person in charge of all Central Intelligence Agency operations in Afghanistan had been mistakenly included in a press release issued to a host of news organizations by the White House. The release included the names of all individuals that had been scheduled to meet with US President Barack Obama, during the latter’s unannounced trip to Afghanistan. The US President visited American soldiers stationed in the Asian country during part of the Memorial Day weekend, a federally sanctioned commemoration in the United States, which is designated to honor those who have died while serving in the country’s armed forces. The press release, which was directly issued to over 6,000 journalists, included the name of the CIA official, followed by the designation “Chief of Station, Kabul”. A CIA Chief of Station is the highest-ranking Agency official in a particular country or region, tasked with overseeing CIA operations within his or her geographical area and maintaining a functional institutional relationship with the host nation’s intelligence agencies. Speaking on CNN on Tuesday, President Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser, Tony Blinken, said the White House was “trying to figure out what happened [and] why it happened”, adding that US officials wanted to “make sure it won’t happen again”. He added that the White House Counsel, Neil Eggleston, had been tasked by White House Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, to “look into the matter”. CNN reporters asked Blinken whether the inadvertent identification of the CIA’s Station Chief in the Afghan capital had endangered the life of the officer and his family. Blinken responded saying: “you’ll understand that I can’t comment on the details”, but added that significant emphasis was being placed on the officer’s personal security. The White House official refused to comment on whether the spy agency’s Station Chief would now have to be pulled out of the Asian country. Speaking later on CNN, the network’s National Security Analyst, Robert Baer, himself a former CIA covert operations officer, said the Agency would most likely “have to pull [the Station Chief] out” of Afghanistan, as his operational capabilities have been critically affected by his public identification. Baer added that the blunder would most likely affect the CIA officer’s career in the long run.