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Anonymity is in the eye of the beholder

By Charley Keyes, CNN Senior Producer
  • An official is asked at a Pentagon briefing about a report based on anonymous leaks
  • The official takes a dim view of the anonymous sourcing situation
  • But the official was talking to reporters on the condition of not being named

Washington (CNN) -- An odd Washington moment Tuesday at a Pentagon background briefing for journalists: A person who, according to rules of the briefing, could only be identified as a "senior Defense Department official" refused to comment on reports that Afghan and NATO officials had been duped by a Taliban impostor.

"Obviously that story was based on anonymous leaks put into various newspapers. Those of you who've talked to me before know that I have strong views about that," Senior Defense Official said.

But reporters interrupted and pointed out that he also was benefiting from anonymity as the purported sources of the story.

Not the same, said Senior Defense Official.

"Actually I'm not 'anonymous.' I'm a senior defense official and this is an official organized thing. That's different from people who are speaking without the sanction of our press people and the U.S. government," he said.

But the official didn't answer the question.