In a former job I once spoke to someone who claimed to be, at the time, a spy working secretly for the CIA. Whether this person was or not is anyone’s guess, as the spy agency isn’t exactly keen on confirming such things, but something they told me when we spoke struck a chord — that much of the intelligence gathering being done by people in that line of work these days is being done through social media. So, needless to say, this story posted today by Dangerroom’s Spencer Ackerman about an alleged comely young lady spy using Twitter and Facebook to gather military/national security secrets was one that I found rather fascinating.
Yes, a self-proclaimed missiles expert — aka the “1st Lady of Missiles” — who often hinted that she worked with the U.S. government used Twitter and Facebook accounts to seduce social media-savvy intelligence and military personnel into sharing information with her.
This is a strange, Twitter-borne tale of flirting, cutouts, and lack of online caution in the intelligence and defense worlds. Professionals who should’ve known better casually disclosed their personal details (a big no-no in spook circles) and lobbed allegations they later couldn’t or wouldn’t support (a big no-no in all circles). It led to a Pentagon investigation. And it starts with a Twitter account that no longer exists called @PrimorisEra.
The subject of much confusion and even more speculation, @PrimorisEra purports to be a woman in her late 20s named Shawn Elizabeth Gorman. Many have corresponded with her through Google Chat, IM, Facebook, and Twitter. Very few of them have met her in person. She claims to hold a security clearance and work for a Defense Department contractor that she won’t identify … Rarely, if ever, did @PrimorisEra’s avatar show her face. But sometimes it showed a woman’s legs, or a bare shoulder with a sheer sweater. Or a woman in a bikini. That had the effect of attracting attention from dudes in the military and intel worlds, shielded by the pseudonymity of Twitter.
One male tweeter on active duty she contacted through DM and chat thought most of her banter was harmless. But some of it struck him as “creepy,” he tells Danger Room: “Where I was stationed, where I was deploying, pressing me for details … A lot that we shouldn’t be talking about.” He thought she should know better not to ask for sensitive specifics like that, especially on unclassified forums, since @PrimorisEra “presented herself as a DoD [Department of Defense] employee.”
Then, a few days ago, a rival anonymous lady security geek tweeted out a bombshell — she claimed to have first-hand knowledge that @PrimorisEra was a “honeypot,” the term given to a female spy who uses sex to ferret out secrets.
“Just to be clear,” @FrostinaDC tweeted on Saturday, “I have intel that @PrimorisEra is a Honey Pot & if you’re in my field you know what that means.”
And then, within a matter of hours, all traces of @PrimorisEra vanished from the web. Her Twitter and Facebook accounts were deleted. According to Ackerman, @FrostinaDC has turned all of her evidence over to the Pentagon for an investigation to be launched. Through a liason who contacted him, @PrimorisEra denied being a spy to Ackerman.
“Among the community of national security tweeters, theories abound about what @PrimorisEra was really up to,” Ackerman writes. “None consider her a twitter-born Anna Chapman — one of the Russian sleeper agents planted, and then discovered, in the United States. Some wonder if her multiple layers of internet personae mean she’s part of an effort by a private firm to see if Pentagon or intelligence employees and contractors are spilling the beans to anyone who pokes them. Far more think she’s a wannabe who puffed up her bona fides on the internet to security professionals to fit in.”
(@Primorisera twitpic and screengrab via Wired)
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