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White House blows CIA agent's cover

Last updated 10:40 27/05/2014
White House
Reuters

DAMAGE CONTROL: The White House is asking media not to publish the name of a CIA officer, whose details were sent out to 6000 journalists.

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The Obama administration has accidentally revealed the name of the CIA's top official in Afghanistan in an email to thousands of journalists.

The officer's name - identified as "chief of station" in Kabul - was included by US embassy staff on a list of 15 senior American officials who met with President Obama during his surprise visit to Bagram Air Field on Saturday (local time).

The list was sent to a Washington Post reporter who was representing the news media, who then sent it out to the White House "press pool" list, which contains as many as 6000 recipients.

The Associated Press is withholding the officer's name at the request of the Obama administration, who said its publication could put his life and those of his family members in danger.

A Google search appears to reveal the name of the officer's wife and other personal details.

White House officials realised the error after the Post reporter notified them, and sent out a new list without the station chief's name.

Other major news organisations also agreed not to publish the officer's name.

The reporter who distributes the pool report sends it to the White House to be checked for factual accuracy and then forwarded to the thousands of journalists on the email distribution list, so in this case the White House failed on at least two occasions to recognise the official's name was being revealed and circulated so broadly.

The intentional disclosure of the name of a "covered" operative is a crime under the US Intelligence Identities Protection Act.

A former CIA officer, John Kiriakou, was sentenced to 30 months in prison in January after pleading guilty to disclosing to a reporter the name of an undercover agency officer.

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- AP

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