Obama Blunder Outs CIA Agent
The Obama administration is scrambling after accidentally outing their top spy operating in Afghanistan over the weekend.
The blunder took place on Saturday, while President Obama paid a surprise trip to troops stationed in Afghanistan. A press list of U.S. officials taking part in the visit was released with the name of the agent, who was listed as “Chief of Station” in Kabul. That title is given by the CIA for its highest-ranking spy in a country.
A reporter for the Washington Post, White House bureau chief Scott Wilson, copied the list and included it as part of his “pool report,” which was then distributed to more than 6,000 organizations across the globe.
Wilson later noticed the “Chief of Station” inclusion on the list and raised questions about whether the name was meant to be on it. The White House at first raised no objections, but then quickly released a new list without the person on it.
The White House is normally sent the pool report first, so it can be checked for factual errors, reports Newsmax. For some reason, the pool report did not go through that vetting system this time.
“It is unclear whether the disclosure will force the CIA to pull the officer out of Afghanistan,” notes the Post. “As the top officer in one of the agency’s largest overseas posts, with hundreds of officers, analysts and other subordinates, the station chief in Kabul probably has been identified to senior Afghan government officials and would not ordinarily take part in clandestine missions beyond the U.S. Embassy compound.”
However, the identities of at least three CIA station chiefs in Pakistan have been exposed in recent years. In one case, a CIA officer became a target of death threats after his cover was blown, forcing the agency to rush him out of the country.
Some intelligence experts have questioned how the Obama administration, with six years of experience under its belt, could make such a rookie mistake.
Conservatives were quick to compare the mistake to the 2003 Valerie Plame affair. Plame was revealed to be a CIA operative by members of the Bush administration in an effort to discredit her husband, Democratic diplomatic appointee and Iraq war critic Joseph C. Wilson.
Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff, was eventually convicted for the intentional outing of Plame. President Bush commuted Libby’s 30-month prison sentence, leaving the felony conviction, a fine of $250,000, and two years of supervised release, including 400 hours of community service, intact.