By SIOBHAN GORMAN And MATTHEW ROSENBERG
Pakistani media aired the name of a man they said is the Central Intelligence Agency’s station chief, prompting questions about whether the Pakistani government tried to out a CIA operative in the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden.
The U.S. is looking into the matter. There are no plans at this time to withdraw the station chief. If the government had attempted to publicize the name, that would be the second such outing in the past six months, a sign of how deeply U.S.-Pakistan relations have soured.
The CIA declined to comment. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Tensions, which have been building between the two countries for months, exploded after the bin Laden strike, which sharply embarrassed the Pakistani government. In another source of strain, the U.S. is pressing the Pakistanis for access to bin Laden’s three wives, who are being held in Pakistani custody. The Pakistani government isn’t complying with the request, a U.S. official said.
The Islamabad station chief is one of the CIA’s most critical and sensitive assignments. The position oversees the agency’s covert programs, including the drone campaign that targets al Qaeda and Taliban leaders, as well as fighters who cross the border into Afghanistan.
The purported name of the CIA’s station chief was first reported Friday by ARY, a private Pakistani television channel. The station was reporting on a meeting between the director of Pakistan’s spy service—the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence—and the station chief.
“If we did not mention the man’s name, the credibility of the story would have been reduced,” said ARY’s Islamabad bureau chief, Sabir Shakir.
Mr. Shakir wouldn’t discuss who had provided the name, but said he had “one-plus” sources.
The story was picked up by the Nation, a right-wing newspaper that has often accused American diplomats and private citizens in Pakistan of working for the CIA. The Nation’s editor, Salim Bokhari, said he didn’t know how the name became public.
“It has to have been released by some government agency,” said Mr. Bokhari. “Who else would know such information?” …
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