President Obama's trip to Afghanistan Sunday was supposed to be a surprise for U.S. troops. But others were surprised in a different way when the administration inadvertently released the name of a top CIA official. (Via Flickr / The U.S. Army)
The Washington Post first broke the story after the White House released a list of senior U.S. officials who held a military briefing with Obama during his visit. Included in that list was an official's name followed by Kabul's "Chief of Station" — the title used by the CIA for its highest-ranking spy.
The Wall Street Journal explains that list was released to journalists traveling with Obama and then distributed via White House "pool reports" to other U.S. and foreign media not in attendance.
The White House originally did not object to the inclusion of that name after a Post reporter noticed the unusual reference. Then upon realizing its mistake, the administration quickly released a second list without the previously named CIA official.
That name had not been publicized due to concerns it would jeopardize the safety of the officer and his family, but CBS reports he will now likely flee Afghanistan to avoid confrontation with the Taliban.
President Obama's Memorial Day trip was his first to Afghanistan since 2012. It remained unannounced until he arrived at Bagram Airfield, where he spoke to U.S. troops. (Via Fox News)
The White House says it wanted to avoid any implication that it was trying to influence Afghanistan's upcoming presidential election to replace President Hamid Karzai, who has been opposed to a prolonged U.S. presence in the country. (Via CNN, NDTV)
Neither the White House nor the CIA are commenting on the mistake.