Earlier this weekend, President Obama (and Brad Paisley) sneaked over to Afghanistan to visit the troops there. While the journalists covering the surprise trip followed orders to keep it under wraps until the president had arrived at his destination, the White House managed to release some secret information to the journalists. The Washington Post notes that the name of the CIA’s highest-ranking spy in Kabul was included on a list of officials who planned to meet with Obama in Afghanistan — a list that was distributed to a lot of reporters:
The list was circulated by e-mail to reporters who traveled to Afghanistan with Obama, and disseminated further when it was included in a “pool report,” or summary of the event meant to be shared with other news organizations, including foreign media, not taking part in the trip.
In this case, the pool report was filed by Washington Post White House bureau chief Scott Wilson. Wilson said he had copied the list from the e-mail provided by White House press officials. He sent his pool report to the press officials, who then distributed it to a list of more than 6,000 recipients.
Wilson told the Post that he eventually noticed the “unusual reference” to the officer’s name and position (“Chief of Station”) and asked the White House if they had intended to include it. But by the time the White House had “scrambled” to release an updated list, the mistake had already been noted on Twitter. News outlets (and, it seems, the Twittersphere) have agreed to not publicize the CIA official’s identity, but he still might have to leave Afghanistan now that his cover has been semi-blown. The lesson: Always double-check your work.