Top White House Official Unmasked—and Fired—as Abrasive Washington Tweeter

Friday, October 25, 2013
Jofi Joseph (photo: LinkedIn)

The White House this week fired a staffer on the National Security Council (NSC) after identifying him as the anonymous Twitter user who regularly skewered administration officials.


Jofi Joseph, a specialist in arms control and Iran, was outted as the person behind @natsecwonk after White House officials launched a private campaign to discover the handle’s owner.


Joseph did not divulge national security secrets in his tweets, but did post personal and offensive attacks on members of the White House and the State Department.


As the anonymous tweeter, he described himself as “abrasive and I bring the snark… [I] unapologetically [say] what everyone else only thinks [on] the foreign policy and national security scene.”


One of Joseph’s favorite targets was former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “Had few policy goals and no wins” … “[California Republican lawmaker Darrell] Issa is an ass but he’s on to something here with the @HillaryClinton whitewash of accountability for Benghazi” … “@ChelseaClinton seems to be assuming all of her parents’ vices ...” And he once tweeted that the State Department “has shitty staff.”


Joseph also mocked the physical appearance of such political figures as Ann Romney, Liz Cheney and the late Washington reporter Helen Thomas.


Investigators believe that Joseph was the mastermind of a second anonymous Twitter account, @dchobbyist, which fired off tweets that focused on a curious threesome: escort services, sexual encounters, and inside the State Department.


Officials followed a trail of clues found in more than 2,000 tweets, including the sender’s travel and shopping patterns. They finally determined Joseph was the person they sought after feeding him inaccurate, but harmless information that he later posted on Twitter.


“It was like they were hunting for bin Laden in a cave and he was right in the belly of the beast all along,” a former NSC official who worked with Joseph told The Washington Post.


Joseph said in a statement that he regretted “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 apologize to everyone I insulted.”


Joseph was on his way to filling a senior post at the Pentagon when he was informed that the jig was up.

- Danny Biederman, Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Stung by a Twitter Renegade, Group in Obama Administration Launched Sting of Its Own (by David Nakamura, Washington Post)

White House Official on National Security Is Fired After Twitter Posts Are Unmasked (by Jackie Calmes, New York Times)

State Dept. Considering Pre-Clearance of Employee Tweets and Blog Posts (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

10 Members of Congress and Their Tweets (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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