We’ve seen many NSA-related details surface, but none of them quite as unexpected as the latest revelation: the agency used to have a Clown Club. Less you think that is some cheery codename for a secret collective or program, it’s not — it was a literal Clown Club. It sounds almost too odd to be true, but the information was revealed by the NSA itself in an unclassified scan titled “Cryptologic Almanac 50th Anniversary Series” posted on its website. The club no longer exists, but its legacy apparently lives on.
The report starts off, “Once upon a time, a man named Ned Clark worked for the National Security Agency. And while he had an ordinary job at the Agency like everyone else, that’s not how he left his mark here: he gained his NSA fame through clowning.”
Clark, having served in the Marine Corps before joining the NSA in the 50s, worked as a typewriter repairman at the Agency. By the late 50s, Clark took up clowning under the moniker “Uncle Ned” as part of his work with children and charities. His life as a clown eventually spilled over to his job at the agency, where he “could always be counted on to entertain at the NSA Christmas Party or any other NSA family party.”
In the 1970s, the agency had its own NSA Clown Club, of which Clark was the president. The Club contained the Clarkwheel Clowns, and was intended to “promote and develop among the membership interest, knowledge, and skill in being a clown.” Clark is said to have given at least one lecture on clowning at the Friedman Auditorium during his time.
Clark passed away at the age of 67 in 1992, and at a time that isn’t known the club was disbanded. However, as of 2002, one of the club’s members going by the name “Snaggs” was still working for the NSA.