Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Chief, Is That You?

Well, somebody in the White House just got fired.

The White House accidentally revealed the name of the CIA's top intelligence official in Afghanistan to some 6,000 journalists.

The person was included on a list of people attending a military briefing for President Barack Obama during his surprise visit to Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan on Sunday.

It's common for such lists to be given to the media, but names of intelligence officials are rarely provided. In this case, the individual's name was listed next to the title, "Chief of Station." 

The good news is somebody in the press pool noticed, but it was too late.

In this case, the same reporter, Scott Wilson, the White House bureau chief for the Washington Post, noticed the unusual entry after the list was distributed and then checked it out with officials. The White House followed up and distributed a shorter list from a different reporter that did not include the station chief's name.

In his account to CNN, Wilson said when they arrived in Afghanistan, he asked White House officials for a list of who would be briefing the President.

A White House official then asked the military for a list to provide to the pool of journalists. The official got an e-mail back from the military with a subject line, "manifest for briefing for Pool," Wilson told CNN. That e-mail was forwarded to Wilson and he proceeded to copy and paste that list for the pool report. He then sent it to the White House official, who sent the report to the distribution list.

So yeah, the Kabul station chief has to be considered burned at this point.   Wilson could have been the guy who spotted it, but the White House person checked it over and THEN sent it out anyway, which means yeah, somebody just got fired.  This is actually rank incompetence and terrible spycraft, and I'm hoping this was a stupid accident and not deliberately done.

Either way, the damage has to be considered done.

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