White House blows cover of CIA chief in Afghanistan

By: CBS
By: CBS

Washington, DC (CBS) - The name of the CIA's top officer in Afghanistan's capital of Kabul was inadvertently exposed by the White House on Saturday.

The Washington Post first reported the misstep, saying the intelligence agent's name was included on a list given to news organizations of senior U.S. officials taking part in President Obama's surprise visit with U.S. troops.

The White House realized what had happened and quickly issued a revised list without the person's name on it.

The official "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," according to the Post.

The newspaper compared the mistake to the only other recent instance of U.S. officials outing a top CIA operative; the very different case of Valerie Plame. She was allegedly named by members of the George W. Bush administration in a bid to discredit her diplomat husband who had become a vocal critic of the Iraq war.

CBS News and the Post are both withholding the name of the CIA officer. The Post says Obama administration officials warned the officer and family members could be at risk if the name was published. The CIA and the White House declined to comment to the Post.

The CIA officer was one of 15 senior U.S. officials named as participants in a military briefing for Mr. Obama at the sprawling Bagram air base, north of Kabul.

CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett said the CIA official will have to leave Afghanistan to avoid retribution from the Taliban, and it's possible he's fled the country already, according to intelligence sources.
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