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Posted at 08:00 AM ET, 03/15/2013

Justice Department ‘wins’ award for secrecy


Rose Mary Woods, President Richard Nixon's secretary, is shown at her White House desk demonstrating how an erasure of part of the Watergate tapes could have happened, in this 1973 file photo. (Associated Press - AP)
In the category of dubious achievements, the Justice Department is now a back-to-back winner of the Rosemary Award, a distinction given by the National Security Archive annually to a public agency whose performance on transparency and openness is downright dismal.

Congrats, or something to the Justice Department (as our colleagues at The Fix say to the winners of their Worst Week in Washington)!

To merit the eighth-annual award, Justice obstructed and cloaked its doings in secrecy, the Archive says, much like the award’s namesake, Rose Mary Woods, secretary to President Richard Nixon. Woods famously erased a crucial 18 minutes of White House tapes (an innocent mistake, she claimed, that accidentally happened when she stretched to answer a phone call).

Justice “clinched the intensely competitive award “ just this week with its performance at a Senate hearing in which an official refused to answer questions about litigation that could undermine an open-government law Congress adopted in 2007 to speed up requests from the public filed under the Freedom of Information Act.

And Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy might have tipped the scales in the Rosemary sweepstakes when got in this zing chiding Justice for slow-walking its rewrite of its own FOIA policies to comply with the 2007 law:

“It’s been five years since we changed the law,” Leahy said. “It took me less time to get through law school.”

By  |  08:00 AM ET, 03/15/2013

 
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