Obama Officials Set Up a Sting to Catch a Twitter Renegade and Office Gossip

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 24 2013 10:43 AM

To Catch a Twitter Renegade: National Security Council Edition

96889180
This picture taken on February 9, 2010 in Paris shows the internet homepage of the microblogging website Twitter

Photo by Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images

National Security Council staffer Jofi Joseph was fired this week after being exposed as the anonymous tweeter behind @natsecwonk, a handle that produced a steady stream of criticism and personal attacks directed at officials within the White House and the State Department. At fewer than 1,600 followers, the since-discontinued account didn't have a national audience. It did, however, have a powerful one: namely those Obama administration officials who were often the target of his 140-character-or-less zingers.

Just how much did Joseph's previously secret alter ego frustrate those within the administration? The Washington Post offers this anecdote to sum things up:

Three weeks ago, [a group of White House and State Department officials] hatched a plan to trick the suspected NSC staffer into revealing himself. They would intentionally plant inaccurate, but harmless, information with him to see if it would pop up as a 140-character tweet, according to a U.S. official with knowledge of the effort.
It is not clear whether the sting led directly to the unmasking last week of Jofi Joseph, 40, who was ... fired from his position on the administration’s Iran negotiations team. But the lengths to which White House officials went to find Joseph reveal how much of an embarrassment his Twitter feed had become inside the West Wing and across the street at the stately Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where Joseph worked alongside his NSC colleagues while secretly skewering them online.
Advertisement

The Post, which has much more on Joseph and his Twitter account, also has a mini slide show of @natsecwonk's best/worst tweets that's worth a look. They range from the simple ("'Has shitty staff.' #ObamaInThreeWords") to the specific ("It's pathetic how @AmbassadorPower keeps tweeting on Syria when her own President refuses to do anything about it. You've sold out, Sam.").

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.