President Obama’s Chief of Staff Denis McDonough has asked White House counsel Neil Eggleston to investigate the outing of the CIA station chief for Afghanistan. As AMN reported Sunday night, White House staff initially blamed the military for the release of the name of the spy, an act that carries a prison sentence if done intentionally.
“The chief of staff has asked the White House counsel, Neil Eggleston, 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,” said spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden Tuesday.
That’s direct and forceful CYA language. It’s no one’s fault, unless they can end the career of some military officer. Oh, here we are, according to Zeke Miller at Time (emphasis added):
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 key here is that the “military official” — which could be a civilian — was asked for a list of those briefing the President, not asked to type up a release. The White House was supposed to use the list to make sure the President knew all of the names, but clean up any embarrassing references to foreign dignitaries or CIA station chiefs.