The reporter who was given the name of the CIA’s top agent in Afghanistan by the White House said he realized the significance of the leak even before the press office did.
“I drew it to their attention before they had noticed what had happened,” Washington Post White House bureau chief Scott Wilson told the Guardian Monday.
Wilson was given a list of individuals meeting with President Barack Obama during his surprise weekend visit to Afghanistan, including a person listed as “chief of station” — the highest-ranking CIA officer. The list was provided by U.S. military officials to the White House press office, and then sent out as part of Wilson’s pool report summary of Obama’s travels to more than 6,000 recipients.
“I asked the press official that was with us on the trip if they knew that the station chief had been identified in the list. That person said that they did not know that, but that because the list was provided by military, they assumed it was OK. By this time the list was out,” Wilson said.
He added, “Soon after, I think that they talked to their bosses, and realized that it was not OK. And they tried to figure out what to do about this, if there was a way to kind of un-ring the bell.”
Wilson said he thinks the highly pressurized situation combined with “very junior people” led to the error.
“My impression is these were very junior people trying to follow an order, that they don’t fully understand or get the ramifications of,” he told the Guardian. “There were a number of misunderstandings and mistakes, including my own failure to review the list before including it in my email, in my pool report. I wish I had, I regret it.”