The story about the departure of the CIA Station Chief from Pakistan is interesting because it reveals that Washington has few friends there, only fair weather accomplices. It is being reported that the Pakistani intelligence service ISI might have leaked the man’s name to get even for a court case in New York involving the service. While it is possible that revenge was the motive, I would rather suggest that the Station Chief’s name was widely known and the leak could have come from just about anywhere and for any reason. A Chief of Station is declared to the local government so he can share information openly, which means that his identity and affiliation are not secret. There were probably hundreds of Pakistani officials who knew who he was and probably also a large number of journalists. Also, the CIA station in the Embassy compound is reportedly located in an isolated and secure group of buildings, making it easy to identify those people going in and out. There are hundreds of locals who work in the US Embassy and many of them regularly report to their own government on the activity there. Some might also be reporting to journalists and even to the Taliban. The identity of the Chief of Station might easily be deduced by any of the local employees within the Embassy based on Embassy records, behavior, and other factors. So the theory that it had to be ISI has to be just speculation unless there is some documentary or other evidence, such as a phone intercept or something similar.
I also found the story interesting from a CIA point of view. The man’s name is being reported in the Pakistani media but is being blacked out in the US because he is under cover. The US media is reporting that he is 43 years old and had previously served in Stockholm and Baghdad. Back in my time in the Agency, a major station like Islamabad is today would be run by a very senior officer with five or six tours behind him. Stockholm was then, and probably is now, a backwater post and Baghdad is, by all accounts, a high security post where one does not actually get much experience going out and running agents because it is dangerous to do so. One recalls that the CIA Chief of Base who was killed in the suicide bombing in Khost Afghanistan last year was also relatively inexperienced. Perhaps the reason why less experienced officers are managing operations is that there is little in the way of traditional spying tradecraft going on. Running drone operations does not require a whole lot of agent handling skill and the emphasis on that kind of offensive operation might signify that CIA’s expertise as an intelligence gathering organization has been much eroded.