US President Barack Obama's administration made a grave mistake ahead of the president's surprise visit to Afghanistan on Sunday, when it accidentally sent the name of the CIA's top intelligence official in Afghanistan to roughly 6,000 journalists.
The White House sent out a list to the media of people attending a military briefing for Obama during his visit to the country's Bagram Airfield, which is a common press release. However, due to the danger accompanying the exposure of intelligence official's identity, their names are usually not included.
That security protocol was apparently forgotten, as the official's name was listed next to the title "Chief of Station," reports CNN, which did not include the name out of consideration for the potential threat the revelation poses to the man's life.
The White House's practice is to send lists of attendees to such events to a print pool reporter who relays the information to the rest of the media via the White House press office.
The print pool reporter in this case, Scott Wilson, the White House bureau chief for the Washington Post, noticed the intelligence official's name on the list only after it had been sent. After he checked with officials, a shorter list was distributed by the White House without the official's name. He reports being told "this is a problem" after alerting the officials to the error.
White House and CIA officials have yet to comment publicly on the incident, although privately officials are reportedly alarmed by the mistake.
CIA station chiefs head intelligence operations in a foreign country, coordinating with the local intelligence services. The most recent case of a similar blunder occurred in 2003, when the Bush administration leaked the name of former CIA officer Valerie Plame. Plame on Monday wrote on Twitter, calling the mistake "astonishing."
"Most naive president in history"
The administration of Obama, who was called the most "naive president in history" in February by Senator John McCain (R-AZ), has come under fire for several blunders.
Among them is the case of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a US soldier captured by Taliban terrorists in June 2009 in Afghanistan, the same location as the recent mistaken revelation. According to a defense official and a military officer in April, the Taliban captors have expressed interest in negotiating his release, but the US has not responded due to bureaucratic disorganization.
In the 2012 attack in Benghazi, the US ambassador to Libya was murdered along with three other Americans by Al Qaeda terrorists. In February, Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice said she has no regrets about her controversial characterization of the attack as a "spontaneous response" to an anti-Islam video.