White House PR outs Kabul CIA station chief during Obama's Afghanistan visit

The name of a CIA station chief overseas normally is a deep secret, most especially in a war zone like Afghanistan. Yet the brand of “smart diplomacy” practiced in the Obama administration resulted in outing the CIA’s top man in Kabul in the course of publicizing President Obama’s surprise visit to the troops in Afghanistan over the weekend. Greg Miller of the Washington Post:

The CIA’s top officer in Kabul was exposed Saturday by the White House when his name was inadvertently included on a list provided to news organizations of senior U.S. officials participating in President Obama’s surprise visit with U.S. troops.

The White House recognized 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 disclosure marked a rare instance in which a CIA officer working overseas had his cover — the secrecy meant to protect his actual identity — pierced by his own government.

Perhaps in an effort at “balance” Miller suddenly brings up Valerie Plame. Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit calls him on this tactic:

So this is a lot worse than the Plame thing, right, where Richard Armitage outed a non-covert desk jockey and somehow Scooter Libby was punished. Can we expect the same degree of press attention? Note how the Post invokes the Plame story in the carefully-worded-to-mislead second paragraph, even while giving the White House the soft treatment here.

Military, not White House PR, are slyly blamed:

The CIA officer was one of 15 senior U.S. officials identified as taking part in a military briefing for Obama at Bagram air base, a sprawling military compound north of Kabul. Others included U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James B. Cunningham and Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., the commander of U.S. and coalition forces in the country.

Their names were included on a list of participants in the briefing provided by U.S. military officials to the White House press office.  (snip)

Initially, the press office raised no objection, apparently because military officials had provided the list to distribute to news organizations. But senior White House officials realized 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.

In other words, operating within the confines of the US government, a factual account, including the station chief’s name was provided to Obama’s PR flaks. They did not do their due diligence, and simply passed along the secret data.

Somehow I doubt that a special prosecutor will be appointed.

The many scathing comments on the WaPo article are interesting to read.

Hat tip: Clarice Feldman

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