The White House mistakenly identified the Central Intelligence Agency’s top official in Afghanistan on Sunday, during President Barack Obama’s short, surprise visit to troops at Bagram Air Base.
The official’s name was included on a list of names participating in a military briefing with Obama, which was provided to the press travelling with the president. The individual was identified as the “Chief Station Officer.”
The list was then more widely distributed in a “pool report” — one reporter’s summary of the event that is passed on to all press on the White House media list, including those not on the trip.
The Washington Post’s Scott Wilson was the pool reporter at Bagram Air Base on Sunday, and he noted the apparent mistake to the White House. Wilson asked White House officials whether they had meant to include the name, at which point they backtracked.
The individual’s name has not been released on a broad scope, and the individual does not appear to have been identified on Twitter or other social media sites. The Washington Post withheld the name of the officer in its report on the mistake, after the White House warned it could put the individual and the individual’s family at risk.
The Post noted the last time a CIA official had his or her identity exposed by the U.S. government came under the administration of President George W. Bush, albeit under significantly different circumstances.
Former CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity was revealed in 2003, something for which the Bush administration would find itself engulfed in scandal. Plame’s husband, former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson, was an intense critic of the Bush administration’s war in Iraq.
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