White House mistakenly reveals CIA official’s name
WASHINGTON — In an embarrassing flub, the Obama administration accidentally revealed the name of the CIA’s top official in Afghanistan in an e-mail to thousands of journalists during the president’s surprise Memorial Day weekend trip to Bagram Air Field.
The officer’s name — identified as ‘‘chief of station’’ in Kabul — was included by US embassy staff on a list of 15 senior American officials who met with President Obama during the Saturday visit.
The list was sent to a Washington Post reporter who was representing the news media, who then sent it out to the White House ‘‘press pool’’ list, which contains as many as 6,000 recipients.
The Associated Press is withholding the officer’s name at the request of the Obama administration, which said its publication could put his life and those of his family members in danger.
Because the Afghanistan station chief is known to Afghan officials and lives in a heavily guarded compound, he may be able to continue in his job.
White House officials realized the error after the Post reporter notified them, and they sent out a new list without the station chief’s name. Other major news organizations, including the Post, also agreed not to publish the officer’s name.
The reporter who distributes the pool report sends it to the White House to be checked for factual accuracy and then forwarded to the thousands of journalists on the e-mail distribution list, so in this case the White House failed on at least two occasions to recognize that the CIA official’s name was being revealed and circulated so broadly.