A senior White House national security aide who was critical of the Obama administration’s “whitewash” of the attack on the Benghazi consulate has been fired for writing anti-administration messages under the pseudonym @NatSecWonk on Twitter.
Jofi Joseph, who was a key member of the White House team in negotiations on Iran’s nuclear weapons program, was fired after a monthslong internal investigation. The White House confirmed Wednesday that Mr. Joseph no longer works for National Security Council but wouldn’t go into details of his termination.
Beginning in 2011, Mr. Joseph, 40, tweeted messages critical of the administration under the @NatSecWonk name, sometimes insulting his bosses’ intelligence and blasting administration policies. His targets included senior presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett, former National Security Adviser Thomas E. Donilon, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, Secretary of State John F. Kerry and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Mr. Joseph apologized Wednesday for his actions.
“It has been a privilege to serve in this administration and I deeply regret violating the trust and confidence placed in me,” he said in an email to Politico. “What started out as an intended parody account of DC culture developed over time into a series of inappropriate and mean-spirited comments. I bear complete responsibility for this affair and I sincerely apologize to everyone I insulted.”
While Mr. Joseph took gleeful anonymous shots at Mrs. Clinton, he didn’t appear to direct many nasty tweets at Vice President Joseph R. Biden, another potential 2016 presidential candidate. Mr. Joseph worked for Mr. Biden from 2001 to 2004, when Mr. Biden chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He worked later for Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr., Pennsylvania Democrat.
The White House tried to distance itself from Mr. Joseph on Wednesday, with presidential press secretary Jay Carney saying Mr. Joseph was actually a State Department employee on loan to the NSC. It turned out to be an erroneous dodge; the State Department said Mr. Joseph had become a full-time employee at the White House last summer.
Mr. Joseph was in line to be promoted to a job at the Pentagon before his role as a secret tweeter came to light.
He earlier tweeted that Rep. Darrell E. Issa, a California Republican who is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, was an “ass” but said Mr. Issa was “on to something” with his investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s “whitewash of accountability” in the Benghazi terrorist attack. He accused Mr. Rhodes of dodging questions about Benghazi.
The attack in September 2012 in Libya killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Mr. Joseph also criticized Mrs. Clinton for having “few policy goals and no wins” in the Middle East.
He once tweeted that Mr. Obama’s “continuing reliance and dependence upon a vacuous cipher like Valerie Jarrett concerns me.”
Politico said the probe into his tweets intensified after Mr. Joseph became critical of the Benghazi episode. The investigation reportedly included Mr. Joseph’s travel and shopping patterns, as gleaned from his tweets, and that lawyers from the White House counsel’s office confronted him.
The revelations are another example of the Obama administration’s national security apparatus being compromised. Earlier this year, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden fled the United States as he leaked huge amounts of sensitive data about the nation’s spying programs.
Among Mr. Joseph’s numerous tweets were some critical of the way Mr. Obama’s second-term team was shaping up.
“Growing problem for the Administration — too many 1st term holdovers not getting the hint that it’s time to move on and get the [expletive] out,” he said at one point.
In another, he tweeted, “More people should be asking why John Kerry installed two former aides, both with ZERO foreign policy experience, into top posts at State.”
Dana Perino, who served as press secretary for former President George W. Bush, expressed incredulity that the current White House had an aide revealing insider information on Twitter.
“Saying a prayer of thanks that twitter wasn’t a big deal when we were in the WH. Twitter troll at the NSC? Good grief,” she wrote on her Twitter account.