The White House’s error could cost him his job. In an email to reporters traveling with Barack Obama during a surprise visit to Kabul on Sunday, Washington erroneously revealed the name of the top CIA representative in Afghanistan.
His name appeared on a list of people attending a briefing for President Obama, according to The Washington Post. The American newspaper also reported that the email was sent to over 6,000 recipients. The Post’s journalist, surprised to see the title “chief of station,” mentioned it to White House press officials, who at first had no response … then realized the huge mistake and resent a corrected list, this time without the agent’s name.
The Valerie Plame Precedent
The newspaper, like other media outlets, confirmed that they would keep the famous name to themselves at the request of the Obama administration, who warned the media that publishing the name could run a great risk to the agent and his family. For security reasons, the agent may be forced to leave his post, as his cover is no longer assured. However, The Washington Post estimated that due to his high station, the agent would likely not be directly involved in secret missions and must already be known to Afghan authorities.
This isn’t the first time that this type of incident has occurred. Under the Bush administration, the identity of Valerie Plame, a spy working for the CIA, was — deliberately, this time — leaked in 2003. The information was delivered by Lewis Libby, an adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, and was a maneuver aimed at discrediting Plame’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who accused Bush of lying about his justifications for the war in Iraq.
France is not immune from this type of incident either: The identity of the station chief of the DGSE, the General Directorate for External Security, in Cote d’Ivoire, appeared in the annex of a parliamentary report posted online on Oct. 29 on the Senate website. It has since been deleted.