The White House will implement new safeguards to protect the identity of certain government officials after the name of the CIA station chief in Afghanistan was mistakenly included in a list of senior officials the administration gave to news organizations.
An investigation by White House Counsel Neil Eggleston found that the release of the chief's name was inadvertent and recommended the administration immediately implement steps to ensure it does not happen again. The chief of station is a designation used by the CIA for the highest-ranking spy in a country.
Three changes will take place, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters. On international trips, White House staff will notify people who meet with President Obama that their names may be included in a list that is released to the media, and the administration will clear all names with National Security Council staff. White House scheduling and advance staff will also receive more training on the handling of sensitive information.
"In all of these circumstances, we’re balancing our commitment to transparency with the need to protect some information for national security reasons," Earnest said.
No one will be disciplined for the mistake, Earnest said.
The CIA officer was one of 15 officials the White House said participated in a meeting with Obama during his trip to Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan last month. The names were on a list provided by the U.S. military to the White House press office.
The list was sent by e-mail from the press office to reporters traveling with Obama and then put in a pool report, a summary of events a designated reporter disseminates to the wider media, including both foreign and domestic news outlets.
The pool report was filed by Washington Post White House bureau chief Scott Wilson. Wilson has said he copied the list from the press office e-mail and sent it back to the White House for approval. The administration then sent it out to the media. After it was distributed, Wilson said he asked the White House if they meant to include the station chief. Initially the White House raised no objections, but senior White House officials then realized the mistake.