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Bush taps Clarke as cyberdefense chief
From: InfoSec News <isn () c4i org>
Date: Tue, 2 Oct 2001 04:29:33 -0500 (CDT)
By DAN VERTON
October 01, 2001
WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration last week took a long-awaited
step toward improving the federal government's critical-infrastructure
protection efforts by tapping the nation's de facto cybersecurity czar
to lead a new Office of Cyberdefenses within the White House.
Richard Clarke, longtime national coordinator for security,
infrastructure protection and counterterrorism at the National
Security Council, will head the new office, which was created as part
of a government-wide antiterrorism reorganization in the aftermath of
the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks (see Computerworld coverage).
The office will fall under the aegis of the newly created Homeland
Security Office, a cabinet-level post that, beginning next Monday,
will be led by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge.
Clarke has been an outspoken proponent of preparing for what experts
have described as an "electronic Pearl Harbor," a debilitating
surprise cyberattack against the nation's critical computer and
telecommunications networks by terrorists.
In the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, officials have repeatedly
warned of an increased threat to IT infrastructure and said the next
wave of terrorist attacks could also include a simultaneous
Although there is now new momentum behind critical infrastructure
protection efforts among government and private sector companies,
which own and operate the bulk of the nation's IT infrastructure,
Clarke's appointment had been in the works for many months.
Bush signed an executive order four months ago appointing Clarke and
was poised to make the announcement when the attacks occurred Sept.
Sources also said former U.S. Army Special Forces commander, Gen.
Wayne Downing (Ret.) will take over Clarke's counterterrorism
responsibilities under Ridge. Downing led the task force that
delivered the final report on the 1996 terrorist bombing of the U.S.
military's Khobar Towers complex in Saudi Arabia.
"I've always thought that Clarke's job was more than one mere mortal
human being could handle," said Frank Cilluffo, chairman of the Cyber
Threats of the Future task force at the Center for Strategic and
International Studies in Washington. "We're talking about the real
A-Team here," said Cilluffo, referring to Ridge, Downing and Clarke.
"These are not just good proposals, but the best way to go."
Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of
America, which was instrumental in forming the IT sector's Information
Sharing and Analysis Center (IT-ISAC), said the ITAA is "very pleased"
with the appointment of Clarke.
"Dick knows how to get things done, how to work with industry and how
to meet the challenge globally as well as domestically," said Miller.
"With the backing of the president, he will substantially reduce much
of the confusion and internal friction that has hampered government
efforts in information security."
Cilluffo said he agrees. "This is an issue of marrying up efforts of
the government and private sector," said Cilluffo. "Implementation and
execution is not going to be Uncle Sam."
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- Bush taps Clarke as cyberdefense chief InfoSec News (Oct 02)