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HindustanTimes Sat,25 Oct 2014

World

White House blows cover of CIA chief in Afghanistan: report
PTI
Washington, May 26, 2014
First Published: 20:35 IST(26/5/2014)
Last Updated: 20:39 IST(26/5/2014)

In a rare gaffe, the White House inadvertently blew the cover of the CIA chief in Afghanistan by including his name in a list provided to journalists of US officials participating in President Barack Obama's surprise visit to the country.

The White House recognised the mistake and quickly issued a revised list that did not include the individual, who had been identified on the initial release as the "Chief of Station" in Kabul, a designation used by the CIA for its highest-ranking spy in a country, The Washington Post reported on Monday.

The disclosure which was made on Saturday marked a rare instance in which a CIA officer working overseas had his cover blown by his own government, the report said.

The only other recent case came under significantly different circumstances, when former CIA operative Valerie Plame was exposed as officials of the George W Bush administration sought to discredit her husband, a former ambassador and fierce critic of the decision to invade Iraq.

The US daily did not give out the name of the CIA officer at the request of Obama administration officials who warned that the officer and his family could be at risk if the name were published.

The CIA officer was one of 15 senior US officials identified as taking part in a military briefing for Obama at Bagram air base, a sprawling military compound north of Kabul.

Others included US Ambassador to Afghanistan James B Cunningham and Marine Gen Joseph F Dunford, Jr, the commander of US and coalition forces in the country.

Their names were included on the list of participants in the briefing provided by US military officials to the White House press office.

The list was circulated by e-mail to reporters who traveled to Afghanistan with Obama, and disseminated further when it was included in a "pool report," or summary of the event meant to be shared with other news organisations, including foreign media, not taking part in the trip.

Initially, the press office raised no objection, apparently because military officials had provided the list to distribute to news organisations, the Post said.

But senior White House officials realised the mistake and scrambled to issue an updated list without the CIA officer's name. The mistake, however, already was being noted on Twitter, although without the station chief's name, the daily said.

It is unclear whether the disclosure will force the CIA to pull the officer out of Afghanistan, it said.

The identities of at least three CIA station chiefs in Pakistan have been exposed in recent years.


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