Spy chief James Clapper wins not-so-coveted Rosemary award

Woods re-enacting her stretch. (Photo: courtesy National Security Archive)
Woods reenacting her stretch. (Photo: courtesy National Security Archive)

And now, the winner of the National Security Archive’s Ninth Annual Rosemary Award, named for President Richard M. Nixon’s secretary, Rose Mary Woods, whose spectacular stretch allegedly erased 18 1/2 minutes of a Watergate tape.

The not-so-coveted award, given by the nonprofit archive at George Washington University for the worst open-government performance during 2013, goes to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Clapper won for answering “No, sir,” to a question by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who asked, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Clapper added, “not wittingly.”

Now that we’ve had the revelations of National Security Agency programs that include the collection of data from U.S. phone call records and  NSA’s surveillance of online communications to and from foreign targets, the answer, Clapper has said, was the “least untruthful” he could give, and it was “too cute by half.”

The award also recognizes NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander, former FBI director Robert Mueller and the Justice Department’s national security division for claiming that an entire wiretap court opinion was appropriately given the highest of “top secret” classifications, including the part that included the “actual language of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution” which deals with unreasonable searches.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.
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Al Kamen · March 22