The name of the CIA’s spy chief in Pakistan is ... still a secret, according to the United States government. The agent fled Pakistan last week after he was named in a lawsuit which accused him of killing civilians with drone strikes. The lawsuit was filed by the family of some people apparently killed by strikes and also names CIA Chief Leon Panetta and Defense Secretary Robert Gates as codefendants.
Now that the spook’s name is in the public record it is appearing almost everywhere, from newspapers in Pakistan to the BBC to the Internet. Of course, it may not be his real name, says one insider; CIA officers on foreign fields regularly use cover names.
In any case, you won’t find the outed officer’s name in the stories about the case in the New York Times or the Washington Post. Many U.S. news outlets (including U.S. News) don’t report the names of undercover agents they learn during the course of normal reporting. In this case, the agent fled Pakistan after he’d received “credible threats” from terrorist groups, according to U.S. officials. Still, not all media organizations keep names under wraps; Both McClatchy and CNN printed his name on Dec. 1., when the lawsuit was filed. And his name does pop up on the website of the New York Times, after one of the Grey Lady’s readers used it in a comment on a story about how the spy’s name was revealed.