WH to probe outing of CIA station chief

 

The White House has asked President Obama's top lawyer to investigate the inadvertent disclosure of the CIA's top spy in Afghanistan during the president's trip to Kabul over the weekend.

"The chief of staff has asked the White House counsel, Neil Eggleston, to look into what happened and report back to him with recommendations on how the Administration can improve processes and make sure something like this does not happen again," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said Tuesday.

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The officer's name was mistakenly included in a list of 15 individuals attending a briefing with Obama during his visit to Bagram Airfield on Sunday. It was provided to the press traveling with the president. 

The name was then forwarded by Washington Post journalist Scott Wilson, who was serving as the print pool reporter, to an email distribution list for thousands of journalists maintained by the White House.

Wilson later flagged the inclusion of the station chief's name to White House officials. Aides, hoping to walk back the inadvertent disclosure, subsequently provided a shorter version of the list to the print pool that omitted the official's name.

The Hill and other media organizations have withheld the name of the station chief at the request of the administration.

In 2010, the CIA station chief in Pakistan was removed from the country after his name was revealed in a legal suit brought by victims of U.S. drone strikes. After local newspapers ran his name, the officer returned to the United States amid death threats.

Intentionally exposing the identity of undercover CIA operatives is a crime. Earlier this year, former CIA officer John Kiriakou was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison after admitting he had told a reporter the name of an undercover officer.