World & Nation

White House accidentally identifies CIA chief in Afghanistan

Obama in Afghanistan
President Obama speaks to troops in Afghanistan on an unannounced visit over the weekend. A memo related to the visit, sent to journalists, mistakenly included the name of the CIA chief in Kabul.
(Evelyn Chavez / Department of Defense)

The CIA’s top official in Kabul has been publicly identified by the White House in an email accidentally circulated to thousands of journalists as part of President Obama’s surprise Memorial Day weekend trip to Afghanistan.

The White House declined to comment on the mistake and most U.S. media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, did not release the official’s name for his protection and that of his family.




CIA name disclosure: An article in the May 27 Section A stated that former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby disclosed that former intelligence official Valerie Plame worked for the CIA. Former State Department official Richard Armitage said he was the first to disclose that Plame worked for the agency.


The inadvertent disclosure came Saturday as part of a list of names circulated by the White House of individuals who would participate in the president’s brief trip to Afghanistan to express his thanks to soldiers there.

The list, which was circulated in a “pool report” sent to more than 6,000 journalists, identified the individual as “chief of station,” which is the job title of the CIA’s top official in a foreign country. Even the existence of CIA operations in a foreign country are usually kept secret.


The mistake was disclosed by the Washington Post, whose journalist served as the pool reporter during the trip.

In 2003, another CIA operative, Valerie Plame, was publicly identified by I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, in an apparent attempt to discredit her husband, who had publicly raised questions about the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq.

Libby was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice, but his sentence was commuted by President Bush.




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