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White House adopts new rules after CIA station chief outed

12 june 2014, 10:57
0
Josh Earnest, a White House spokesman. ©Reuters/Yuri Gripas
Josh Earnest, a White House spokesman. ©Reuters/Yuri Gripas

The White House said Wednesday it had adopted new procedures on President Barack Obama's foreign trips to avoid a repeat of the "inadvertent" release of the name of the CIA's station chief in Kabul last month, AFP reports.

The station chief was named, contrary to intelligence community practices, in a pool report distributed to thousands of reporters based on information provided by White House officials.

AFP is not revealing the man's name following requests by US officials.

The new measures will see a member of Obama's advance staff meet participants in his meetings before he arrives in a country, said Josh Earnest, a White House spokesman.

They will then be given a chance to object to their names and titles being released.

"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.

On future international trips with Obama, press staff will clear names and titles of meeting participants that are to be released to pool reporters with national security staff, according to Earnest.

And White House communications and scheduling staff will get extra training in the handling of national security information.

White House Counsel Neil Eggleston, who carried out a probe into last month's incident, presented the recommendations to the president's Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on Tuesday.

Obama was also briefed on the findings.

Earnest said no White House staffers or other officials were disciplined or fired over the outing, which took place when Obama paid a Memorial Day visit to Bagram Air Base.

The agent's name was revealed in a pool report sent out by a Washington Post reporter to journalists based on a list given by the White House of officials who were providing a security briefing to President Barack Obama during his surprise weekend visit to Bagram.

The pool report is an eyewitness account of the president's activities written by a reporter on behalf of his colleagues, and sent out by the White House to thousands of journalists.

When the reporter realized what had happened, he notified senior White House officials and they provided a new list of officials for the pool report that was missing the name of the man revealed as "chief of station" in the earlier report.

Officials also asked reporters traveling to Afghanistan with Obama to withhold the CIA station chief's name.

The name of top CIA agents in a country is usually not publicized to protect the officer and his family from possible terror attacks or repercussions.

However, the host country and most other top espionage services in the nation will know the identity of the official, as a matter of course.

In theory, it is a crime to intentionally expose the identity of a covert CIA officer.


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