Senior Administration Official

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The title senior administration official is a term used by the American press to indicate the identity of a source while retaining his or her anonymity. As the title is subjective, the reporter writing the article is allowed to decide if a source should be called one. Most reporters require the source to have "commissioned status". These include any Assistant to the President, Deputy Assistant to the President, and Special Assistant to the President (all of these people are members of the Executive Office of the President). However, senior administration officials almost always have the rank of Assistant. Other people that can be classified using this title include the Vice President and Cabinet secretaries (occasionally deputies and undersecretaries as well). Sometimes officials request that they be identified using other titles to prevent anybody from determining their true identity. A famous example is when Scooter Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was referred to as a "former Hill staffer" by New York Times reporter Judith Miller. The use of high-ranking, anonymous sources has caused numerous scandals for the Bush Administration, most notably the Plame Affair. This is just one example of the larger debate over the use of anonymous sources in high-profile stories, with many newspapers implementing policies that require the usage of on-the-record sources whenever possible.

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