CIA man’s cover blown in slip-up

An audience of 6,000 journalists was the recipient of a highly classified piece of information inadvertently revealed by the White House on Monday — the true identity of the Central Intelligence Agency’s top man in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The name of the person, which was subsequently excluded from all news reports in American media at the request of the administration, was mentioned within a list of individuals attending a military briefing for U.S. President Barack Obama during his surprise visit to Bagram Airfield over the weekend.

Suspected leak

Previous high-profile incidents involving the outing of CIA agents’ identities include the case of Jonathan Banks, the Islamabad station chief, who hastily departed from Pakistan in December 2010 after his cover was blown through a suspected deliberate leak by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence.

Mr. Banks was identified as the head of the CIA’s Pakistan office in a lawsuit filed against the U.S. secretive spy agency by a resident of North Waziristan, who reportedly filed the case against the CIA and Mr. Banks for their role in organising drone strikes that killed his son and brother.

This week too the job title of the person identified was given in the White House list as, “Chief of Station.” The Hindu was one of the media outlets to which the name of the agent was mistakenly e-mailed.

The CIA officer was one among 15 senior U.S. officials identified as taking part in a military briefing for Mr. Obama in Bagram. Others included U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham and Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, Jr., the commander of U.S. and coalition forces in the country.

e-mailed to media

The list was e-mailed to reporters who travelled to Afghanistan with Mr. Obama, and disseminated further by Washington Post reporter Scott Wilson when it was included in a “pool report,” or summary of the event meant to be shared with other news media, including foreign media, not taking part in the trip.

Other notable cases of CIA agents’ names being outed include the famous case of Valerie Plame, who was publicly identified by journalist Robert Novak as a CIA officer in 2003.

The revelation fuelled a controversy because it was linked to allegations that Ms. Plame’s husband, diplomat Joseph Wilson, had been critical of the George W. Bush administration on its WMD claims regarding Iraq and Vice President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff “Scooter” Libby was said to have leaked her identity in retaliation.

Under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 it is a federal crime for those with access to classified information to intentionally and publicly reveal the identity of a U.S. intelligence agent.

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Printable version | Jul 6, 2022 9:17:18 am |