The White House Used the Same Trick as Tyrion Lannister to Out a Leaker

The cloak-and-dagger plan to unmask @natsecwonk is straight out of Game of Thrones.
HBO

It's not exactly promising Princess Myrcella to three different suitors, but the technique used by Tyrion Lannister on HBO's epic Game of Thrones to uncloak the member of the Privy Council betraying him to his sister and mortal foe—giving different information to Varys, Littlefinger, and Grand Maester Pycelle—made an appearance in a recent hunt inside the White House for the pseudonymous national-security tweeter @natsecwonk, according to the Washington Post:

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 U.S. official with knowledge of the effort.

The technique is a well-established one in intelligence circles, it turns out, and was popularized by Tom Clancy as a Canary Trap in his novel Patriot Games. The tweeter was eventually revealed to be Jofi Joseph, a National Security Council staffer involved in negotiations around Iran's nuclear program.

Presented by

Garance Franke-Ruta is a former senior editor covering national politics at The Atlantic.

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