White House ‘investigating’ inadvertent naming of CIA station chief

CIA headquartersBy 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. Read more of this post

Taliban insurgents attack CIA station in Kabul

Afghan Presidential PalaceBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Taliban assailants launched an unprecedented attack against the presidential palace in Afghan capital Kabul on Tuesday morning, which included a targeted assault on a nearby command post of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The daring attack began at approximately 6:30 a.m. outside the eastern gate of the palace, which is located in Kabul’s downtown Shash Darak district. The heavily guarded district contains, aside from most Afghan government buildings, dozens of foreign embassies and media offices. Hundreds of Afghan and foreign officials run for cover as over a dozen explosions were heard near the headquarters of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense, which is located next door to the presidential palace. The attack reportedly began when a group of about four or five insurgents approached the palace’s eastern gate with a small track laden with explosives. As the vehicle approached the gate, the passengers jumped out and began throwing grenades, while the car exploded at the gate. Afghan security guards fled the scene and the assailants were able to enter the grounds of the presidential palace and roamed around for several minutes before they were engaged in a firefight by Afghan and North Atlantic Treaty Organization security personnel. The attackers appeared to concentrate primarily on three buildings: the presidential palace, the Ministry of Defense, and the nearby Ariana Hotel, which is widely understood to host the main CIA command post in Kabul. On Tuesday afternoon, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, told French news agency AFP that “the CIA office” in downtown Kabul was “the main target” of the assault, along with the palace and defense ministry. Read more of this post

CIA to deploy in record numbers in Afghanistan

CIA HQ

CIA HQ

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The CIA is preparing to deploy record numbers of operatives and analysts to Afghanistan, according to US officials with access to classified documents, who spoke on condition of anonymity to The Los Angeles Times. Some said that once the intelligence surge is over the CIA’s station at the US embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, which coordinates CIA activity in the country, will be “among the largest in the agency’s history”, rivaling and perhaps even surpassing those in Iraq, and even in Vietnam in the late 1960s. By the end of 2001, the Agency’s presence in Afghanistan was limited to about 150 agents. This number had doubled by 2005, and current estimates place the CIA’s force in the country to about 700, a number which may double again, once the intelligence surge has reached its peak. Read more of this post

Analysis: CIA “cronyism, favoritism” prompts resignations

Art Brown

Art Brown

By IAN ALLEN| intelNews.org |
Rumors emerged last week that the leading candidate to head the CIA’s station in Kabul, Afghanistan, has no experience in the Middle East or south Asia, and speaks no local languages. This is despite a bitter bureaucratic turf battle between the CIA leadership and the office the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to find the best-suited person for the job. Why is it still so hard, after nearly eight years in Afghanistan, for the CIA to find qualified senior managers? Jeff Stein of SpyTalk says it’s because skilled staff are demoralized and frustrated by the Agency’s chronic inefficiencies. He quotes an anonymous former senior counterterrorism officer who claims that escalating “cronyism and favoritism” are coupled by the lack of any serious “effort to address […] massive senior leadership problems”. Read more of this post