Spyder, it turns out, is Joshua Merritt, a 43-year-old information technology consultant in the Dallas area. Merritt confirmed his role as Powell’s secret witness in phone interviews this week with The Washington Post…

“He kept washing out of courses,” said Mingledorff, citing his education records. “He’s not an intelligence analyst.”

In an interview, Merritt maintained that he graduated from the intelligence training program. But even by his own account, he was only a trainee with the 305th, at Fort Huachuca in Arizona, and for just seven months more than 15 years ago.

His separation papers, which he provided to The Post, make no mention of intelligence training. They show that he spent the bulk of his decade in the Army as a wheeled vehicle mechanic. He deployed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he said he worked in security and route clearance. He held the rank of specialist when he was honorably discharged in 2013, having received several commendations.