Its probably among the world’s worst kept secrets, but it IS a secret nevertheless. Everybody assumes that most US embassies have a CIA Agent as part of its staff. But it has always been the position of the United States not to confirm those reports…well that was until Barack Obama’s little meeting in San Francisco last week. When he was making fun of Hillary’s foreign policy experience he said,
“You go from the airport to the embassy. There’s a group of children who do a native dance. You meet with the C.I.A. station chief and the embassy and they give you a briefing. You go take a tour of plant that” with “the assistance of USAID has started something. And then, you go.”
Thank you Senator, your confirmation probably put those people in danger. If you can’t one simple secret to yourself how the hell can you be President of the United States?:
Why Did Obama Mention His CIA Station Chief Briefings To San Francisco Donors?By Jim Geraghty
A follow-up to this item, asking whether Barack Obama was the first U.S. official to publicly confirm that the CIA conducts briefings of Congressional Delegations within U.S. embassies.(To refresh, Obama said, “Experience in Washington is not knowledge of the world. This I know. When Senator Clinton brags, ‘I’ve met leaders from 80 countries,’ I know what those trips are like. I’ve been on them. You go from the airport to the embassy. There’s a group of children who do a native dance. You meet with the C.I.A. station chief and the embassy and they give you a briefing. You go take a tour of plant that” with “the assistance of USAID has started something. And then, you go.”)The presence of CIA personnel in U.S. embassies has been reported in the press in the past.
The New York Times, back in 1995:
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American spies overseas are almost all based in embassies, posing as diplomats and targeting their opposite numbers. But the United States has no embassies in Iran, Iraq or North Korea. And most terrorists, weapons dealers and drug kingpins do not wear white tie and tails.
The Atlantic, back in 1998:
If the Agency were truly intent on reform, the Directorate of Operations would abolish most of its diplomat-spy positions and replace them with “non-official cover” officers, who operate outside an embassy or consulate, usually as businessmen or consultants.
But this is, to the best of my research, the first time an elected official has confirmed (inadvertently) on the record that CIA “stations” and their chiefs brief visiting U.S. lawmakers when they’re traveling overseas. (And the reports transcribe his statement as “meet with the C.I.A. station chief and the embassy and they give you a briefing”, not “meet with the C.I.A. station chief at the embassy and they give you a briefing.” If it was indeed the latter, Obama has confirmed the location of these briefings.) (The Wikipedia entry for the CIA states, “CIA ‘stations’ are the parts of the embassy with officers under diplomatic cover, in a typical diplomatic office building.” Wikipedia lists no source for this statement.)By the way, Obama’s comment came at… you guessed it, a fund-raiser in San Francisco. Could the Boris Badenovs of the world probably already guess or surmise that these sorts of briefings occur? Sure. But it’s one thing for them to suspect that following the visiting senator’s path within the embassy will take them to the CIA station chief. It’s another thing for an elected official to confirm it.