The Washington Post

White House to investigate inadvertent naming of CIA officer

The Obama administration said Tuesday it will seek to determine how the identity of the CIA’s top spy in Afghanistan was exposed in an embarrassing slip by the White House press office during President Obama’s surprise visit to the country on Sunday.

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough has instructed the president’s chief counsel, W. Neil Eggleston, to examine how the CIA officer’s name ended up on a list of U.S. officials who met with Obama in Afghanistan, a document that was then distributed to thousands of journalists and other recipients.

Eggleston has been asked “to look into what happened and report back to [McDonough] with recommendations on how the administration can improve processes and make sure something like this does not happen again,” said Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council.

The move marks an effort by the White House to assure members of the U.S. intelligence community, as well as the public, that it regards the inadvertent disclosure as a security breach serious enough to warrant attention from high-level officials.

The exposure has been a source of embarrassment for the White House at a time when Obama has sought to focus attention on his efforts to bring an end to the war in Afghanistan. On Tuesday, Obama announced that he planned to reduce the U.S. presence there to 9,800 troops and formally end U.S. combat operations by the end of the year.

The exposed station chief is a veteran CIA officer who leads the agency’s largest overseas operation, with hundreds of operatives, analysts and support personnel based in Afghanistan.

The officer works under cover, meaning that his true identity is kept secret from the public. But his name was included on a list of senior U.S. officials who met with Obama for a military briefing over the Memorial Day weekend.

Administration officials have said that the list was put together by the U.S. military and was mistakenly passed along to reporters who accompanied Obama on the trip. That list was then included in a “pool report,” or summary of the event, distributed to dozens of other news organizations.

The Washington Post has not published the officer’s name at the request of administration officials who cited concern for his safety.

Greg Miller covers intelligence agencies and terrorism for The Washington Post.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Thank you for signing up
You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series.
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.