NYT Thinks It's Now Okay to Out a CIA Officer Working in Iran

Jennifer Van Laar
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Posted: Jun 03, 2017 6:00 AM
NYT Thinks It's Now Okay to Out a CIA Officer Working in Iran

The relationship between the United States and Iran under President Trump's leadership is set to drastically change, and intelligence gathered by the CIA will play a crucial role in the administration's decisions and plans. During the George W. Bush and Obama years, the CIA relied heavily on intel gathered through electronic means and not the old-school human intelligence methods of the Cold War. Due to Iran's closed society, it's been a challenge to gather reliable information, as the New York Times admits.

Iran has been one of the hardest targets for the C.I.A. The agency has extremely limited access to the country — no American embassy is open to provide diplomatic cover — and Iran’s intelligence services have spent nearly four decades trying to counter American espionage and covert operations.

Even in light of that, the Times somehow found it proper to publish the name of an active covert agent Friday. This official, whose name I will not post, is now in charge of operations regarding Iran, and has led the drone program and oversaw the hunt for Osama bin Laden. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that there are quite a few people who would like to see this C.I.A. official eliminated.

The C.I.A. didn't comment on this person's new role - and a former C.I.A. lawyer, Robert Eatinger, wouldn't even use his name.

The challenge to start carrying out President Trump’s views falls to Mr. [redacted]...who comes with an outsize reputation and the track record to back it up: Perhaps no single C.I.A. official is more responsible for weakening Al Qaeda.

The C.I.A. declined to comment on Mr. [redacted] role, saying it does not discuss the identities or work of clandestine officials. The officials spoke only on the condition of anonymity because Mr. [redacted] remains undercover, as do many senior officials based at the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Va. Mr. Eatinger did not use his name.

Why would they do such a thing?

The New York Times is naming Mr. [redacted] because his identity was previously published in news reports, and he is leading an important new administration initiative against Iran.

Where has it been released previously? Why, in the New York Times, in an article about the unprecedented number of drone strikes under President Obama - after the CIA asked them not to publish his name.

But both programs were led by some of the same people. The C.I.A. asked that Mr. [redacted] name and the names of some other top agency officials be withheld from this article, but The New York Times is publishing them because they have leadership roles in one of the government’s most significant paramilitary programs and their roles are known to foreign governments and many others.

The New York Times apparently now has the information and expertise to make a determination of what's safe to disclose publicly. The article goes on to describe details of the person's previous accomplishments within the C.I.A., which I will not reiterate here - but which the United States' enemies would not be happy about.

A sense of duty is what the paper claims is motivating them here, but it's difficult to buy that reasoning - especially when what they are releasing can cost people their lives and harm our national security interests.