The anonymous account named @NatSecWonk was tweeting out a “steady stream of personal and sometimes offensive attacks on White House and State Department officials,” according to media reports.
Stuff, a New Zealand-based tech source, published a Washington Post story of the president’s posse and how they got their man.
Three weeks ago, the group 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 US 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 identified as the creative force behind @natsecwonk and 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.
"It was like they were hunting for bin Laden in a cave and he was right in the belly of the beast all along ," said a former NSC official who worked with Joseph, marveling that he was able to keep his identity secret for over two years.
"We talked about it from time to time in the hallways, 'Did you see what @natsecwonk posted?' " said this former official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal operations. "He probably heard people walking around saying things about the account.”
Joseph said in a statement Wednesday that "I deeply regret violating the trust and confidence placed in me.”
"What started out as an intended parody account of DC culture developed over time into a series of inappropriate and mean-spirited comments," the statement continued. "I bear complete responsibility for this affair and I sincerely apologise [sic] to everyone I insulted.”
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