The evening began with a cocktail hour at the Welcome Reception, where guests had the opportunity to network in the restaurant and enjoy a jazz trio, featuring lead vocalist Lena Seikaly, on the terrace. The program in the main ballroom began with opening remarks by INSA President, Chuck Alsup, who paid tribute to former Baker recipient and American cryptanalyst and trailblazer Ann Caracristi who passed away earlier in the year. His introduction was followed by the presentation of the colors by an honor guard, the singing of the national anthem by Lena Seikaly, and the invocation delivered by Pastor Rickey Jasper. After dinner, INSA Chairman Letitia A. Long warmly recognized John McLaughlin’s achievements in the Intelligence Community, particularly recognizing how he steered the Community on counterterrorism efforts in the aftermath of 9/11 and his founding of the Senior Analytic Service and the Sherman Kent School for Intelligence Analysis.
Afterwards, Chairman Long introduced the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, who spoke highly of Mr. McLaughlin’s significant achievements and dedication to public service, and offered lighthearted and humorous anecdotes from Mr. McLaughlin’s career at the CIA, including tales of how Mr. McLaughlin performed magic tricks, a well-known hobby of his, during his CIA retirement ceremony. Director Clapper then presented the Baker Award on behalf of INSA.
Mr. McLaughlin’s acceptance remarks reflected on his time in the military, his government service, and his experience currently as a Distinguished Practioner-in-Residence at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University. The audience laughed upon hearing that he had “finally penetrated the U.S. government” now that many former students are scattered about the federal government. He shared anecdotes from his time at the CIA, including encounters with former Baker recipients George Tenet, Charlie Allen, and James Clapper. To the delight of the audience, Mr. McLaughlin performed three magic tricks as part of the evening. Standing alone in the center of the stage, he wowed the crowd by tearing up a newspaper before their eyes before unfolding an undamaged copy. In another trick, a knot in a scarf seemingly untied itself without being touched. Mr. McLaughlin also thanked the private sector for their partnership with the Intelligence Community and the many technologies and services they’ve provided that have elevated the national security of the country. The evening concluded with a standing ovation and champagne celebratory toast for Mr. McLaughlin.