The White House has launched an internal investigation into this weekend’s accidental disclosure of the identity of the Central Intelligence Agency’s top spy in Afghanistan.
National Security Council Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said Tuesday that Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough asked White House Counsel Neil Eggleston to investigate Sunday’s release of the individual’s identity in an email to thousands of journalists.
The disclosure came after a military official prepared a list of those participating in a briefing with President Barack Obama in Afghanistan Sunday, including the so-called “chief of station,” to a White House staffer for release to reporters. The designated “print pooler” forwarded the list back to the White House, which then sent it to a distribution list that numbers into the thousands of reporters and also includes an array of Democratic operatives and uncleared White House and administration staffers.
The CIA official operates under a cover, though their identity is known to the Afghan government. The release of the name is not only a faux pas in intelligence circles, but could jeopardize the CIA officer’s career and safety. TIME is withholding the individual’s identity due to lingering safety concerns. About an hour after the initial report was sent to the distribution list a corrected version was sent leaving off the CIA station chief and another official, and administration officials scrambled to try to contain their mistake.
According to Hayden, Eggleston has been asked to “look into what happened and report back to him with recommendations on how the Administration can improve processes and make sure something like this does not happen again.”