How Did The White House Find Its Twitter Mole?

The same way leakers are always surfaced ““ with misinformation.

Logos for the microblogging site Twitter, displayed on the internet on September 13, 2013 in London, England.
National Journal
Tom DeFrank
Oct. 24, 2013, 10:25 a.m.

The sting that helped furi­ous White House plumb­ers un­mask the Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Coun­cil of­fi­cial driv­ing them crazy with snarky Tweets is a time-honored device of­ten em­ployed at high levels of gov­ern­ment to identi­fy leak­ers.

“It’s an easy way to nail some­body who talks too much,” laughed a former seni­or polit­ic­al ad­viser to a Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­ent ex­pert in such ploys. “You drop a harm­less little nug­get in­to a meet­ing where every­one is in on the scam ex­cept the sus­pec­ted leak­er. Then when the in­form­a­tion pops up some­where - bingo.”

Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Coun­cil staffer Jofi Joseph was fired last week after be­ing ex­posed as the cre­at­ive tal­ent be­hind @nat­sec­wonk, an an­onym­ous Twit­ter ac­count that routinely trashed such Obama heavy-hit­ters as coun­selor Valer­ie Jar­rett (“vacu­ous cipher”), NSC chief Susan Rice and UN am­bas­sad­or Sam­antha Power - not to men­tion former sec­ret­ary of state Hil­lary Clin­ton and oth­er Obama­World stal­warts.

Pub­lished re­ports say that top Obama ad­visers, en­raged and em­bar­rassed by the com­ment­ary, de­cided to leak in­noc­u­ous ma­ter­i­al to Joseph to see if it turned up on the no­tori­ous snark-site. It’s not clear the ploy pro­duced the pro­ver­bi­al “smoking gun,” but sud­denly Joseph was fired. In a state­ment, he ad­mit­ted to be­ing the an­onym­ous agent- pro­vocateur and apo­lo­gized to “every­one I in­sul­ted.”

There’s a fam­ous co­rol­lary to this prac­tice that helped un­der­mine White House chief of staff Don­ald Regan. Dur­ing Ron­ald Re­agan’s second term, some seni­or White House of­fi­cials eager to grease the skids un­der Regan con­cocted snappy one-liners cer­tain to make it in­to print from ap­pre­ci­at­ive journ­al­ists. But there was a twist: the an­onym­ous quotes of­ten con­tained a fa­vor­ite Regan phrase (“and the like”). When Nancy Re­agan, nev­er a Regan fan, saw some of the pro­voc­at­ive quotes she im­me­di­ately as­sumed Regan was the leak­er. Nancy’s rage was a prime factor in Regan be­ing forced out of his job in 1987.

What We're Following See More »
AT LEAST NOT YET
Paul Ryan Can’t Get Behind Trump
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

Paul Ryan told CNN today he's "not ready" to back Donald Trump at this time. "I'm not there right now," he said. Ryan said Trump needs to unify "all wings of the Republican Party and the conservative movement" and then run a campaign that will allow Americans to "have something that they're proud to support and proud to be a part of. And we've got a ways to go from here to there."

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Preet Bharara Learned at the Foot of Chuck Schumer
1 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

In The New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin gives Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the longread treatment. The scourge of corrupt New York pols, bad actors on Wall Street, and New York gang members, Bharara learned at the foot of Chuck Schumer, the famously limelight-hogging senator whom he served as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee staff. No surprise then, that after President Obama appointed him, Bharara "brought a media-friendly approach to what has historically been a closed and guarded institution. In professional background, Bharara resembles his predecessors; in style, he’s very different. His personality reflects his dual life in New York’s political and legal firmament. A longtime prosecutor, he sometimes acts like a budding pol; his rhetoric leans more toward the wisecrack than toward the jeremiad. He expresses himself in the orderly paragraphs of a former high-school debater, but with deft comic timing and a gift for shtick."

Source:
DRUG OFFENDERS
Obama Commutes the Sentences of 58 Prisoners
1 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

President Obama has announced another round of commutations of prison sentences. Most of the 58 individuals named are incarcerated for possessions with intent to distribute controlled substances. The prisoners will be released between later this year and 2018.

STAFF PICKS
Trump Roadmapped His Candidacy in 2000
2 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

The Daily Beast has unearthed a piece that Donald Trump wrote for Gear magazine in 2000, which anticipates his 2016 sales pitch quite well. "Perhaps it's time for a dealmaker who can get the leaders of Congress to the table, forge consensus, and strike compromise," he writes. Oddly, he opens by defending his reputation as a womanizer: "The hypocrites argue that a man who loves and appreciates beautiful women (and does so legally and openly) shouldn't become a national leader? Is there something wrong with appreciating beautiful women? Don't we want people in public office who show signs of life?"

Source:
‘NO MORAL OR ETHICAL GROUNDING’
Sen. Murphy: Trump Shouldn’t Get Classified Briefigs
2 hours ago
THE LATEST
×