[ISN] The Secret Man of Power

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Thu Feb 04 1999 - 12:17:38 PST

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    Forwarded From: Ken Williams <jkwilli2at_private>
    Originally From: jeiat_private
    Originally To: cypherpunksat_private
    The New York Times, February 1, 1999
    The Man Who Protects America From Terrorism 
    WASHINGTON -- Richard Clarke is the White House terrorism czar. His stock
    in trade is the stuff of techno-thrillers -- biological bombs in the Wall
    Street subway, chemical clouds of death in the Pentagon parking lot,
    cyberwar attacks crippling the nation's computers. 
    Pale as skim milk, his once-red hair gone white at 48, he works long days
    and nights in Oliver North's old office at the National Security Council,
    keeping a profile so low that almost no one outside his top-secret world
    knows he exists.
    As chairman of the government's chief counterterrorism group for the past
    seven years, he has become what John le Carre calls an "intellocrat" -- a
    gray baron who seems to command nothing more than his desk, yet waves a
    wand and sends soldiers, guns, money and spies around the world. 
    Clarke inspires ferocious loyalty from friends and fierce enmity from foes
    inside the government.  He wins praise for getting things done in secret
    -- and criticism for exactly the same. At the National Security Council,
    where he landed in 1992 after losing his State Department job in a bitter
    battle over Israel's misuse of American military technology, he can
    operate without outside oversight so long as he has President Clinton's
    He has it. The president recently named him the nation's counterterrorism
    coordinator, a new and powerful post. He has to try to coordinate
    everything from the Pentagon and its evolving plans to defend the United
    States against terrorists down to local police and fire departments.
    Despite years of effort to pull it all together, this has never been
    accomplished. There is no 911 number for the nation. 
    The mission of protecting Americans from attack, whether by states or
    rogue groups, is "almost the primary responsibility of the government,"
    Clarke says. He is trying to raise the fear of terrorism in the United
    States to the right level -- higher, not too high -- as he girds the
    nation against the possibility of an assault from nerve gas, bacteria and
    viruses, and from what he calls "an electronic Pearl Harbor." 
    He has to walk a fine line. "You want people to understand the peril
    without panicking," said Anthony Lake, his boss at the National Security
    Council from 1993 to 1996. 
    Clarke has a reserved seat when Cabinet officers gather at the White House
    on national security issues. "My name is on the table next to Madeleine
    Albright and Bill Cohen," the secretaries of state and defense, Clarke
    said. His vote carries the weight of those cast by the chairman of the
    Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of central intelligence. 
    He helped drive the decision to fire cruise missiles at Afghanistan and
    Sudan in August, trying to strike at Osama bin Laden, overpowering
    dissenters at the State Department and the CIA. Now he is helping to steer
    secret operations aimed at capturing the Saudi exile, who is accused of
    bombing two American embassies.
    Clarke also has written at least four classified presidential directives
    on terrorism. They helped expand the government's counterterrorism cadres
    into the $11 billion-a-year enterprise he now coordinates, stifling some
    protests at the Justice Department and the Pentagon, which saw him as a
    competitor for money and power. 
    In his office, where a small sign reads "Think Globally/Act Globally,"  he
    spoke passionately about the threat of cyberwar, invisible attacks on the
    nation's computers, a terror so insidious, so arcane he has trouble
    convincing corporate chieftains and political commissars it is real. But
    it is out there, somewhere, he says, even if he can't prove it. 
    "There is a problem convincing people that there is a threat," he said.
    "There is disbelief and resistance. Most people don't understand. CEOs of
    big corporations don't even know what I'm talking about. They think I'm
    talking about a 14-year-old hacking into their Web sites. 
    "I'm talking about people shutting down a city's electricity," he said,
    "shutting down 911 systems, shutting down telephone networks and
    transportation systems. You black out a city, people die.  Black out lots
    of cities, lots of people die. It's as bad as being attacked by bombs. 
    "An attack on American cyberspace is an attack on the United States, just
    as much as a landing on New Jersey," he said. "The notion that we could
    respond with military force against a cyber-attack has to be accepted." 
    Why would anyone want to mount such an attack? "To extort us," he said.
    "To intimidate us. To get us to abandon our foreign policy -- 'Abandon
    Israel or else!'
    "Imagine a few years from now: A president goes forth and orders troops to
    move. The lights go out, the phones don't ring, the trains don't move.
    That's what we mean by an electronic Pearl Harbor." 
    Enemies and allies alike say Clarke wins battles by working longer hours
    and twisting more arms.  "I like Dick so much for the same reason that
    some people have not liked him: He has a passion for getting things done,"
    said Lake. "That can be abrasive." 
    When thorny questions entangle political, military, diplomatic and
    intelligence issues, Clarke cuts the knot. Are there human rights concerns
    over sending helicopters to Colombia's army? Send the choppers. Does the
    State Department want to reopen its embassy in the Sudan, after reports of
    terrorist threats proved empty? Keep it shuttered. 
    "He's a hammer," said Leslie Gelb, who gave him his first job at the State
    Department 20 years ago. 
    "If there is something to slam through, that's his task -- to get people
    to do things they don't want to do," said Gelb, now president of the
    Council on Foreign Relations, and formerly a reporter and columnist for
    The New York Times. "You don't expect the highest quotient of political
    sensibility from Dick. They didn't hire him for that." 
    Under President Reagan, Clarke was the second-ranking intelligence officer
    at the State Department. His boss was Morton Abramowitz. "Dick is
    aggressive,"  Abramowitz said, "a man with strong views, with a great
    ability to tell people what the issues are without spending 10 years doing
    it. He's a low-profile guy. He has mixed feelings about having a profile
    at all." 
    Clarke's profile first surfaced in 1986. He was an intellectual author of
    a plan to use psychological warfare against the Libyan leader, Moammar
    Gadhafi. Under his plan, flights of SR-71 spy planes set off "sonic booms
    over his head, to tell him his air defenses couldn't stop us," and
    mysterious American rafts floated up on the shores of Tripoli, Clarke
    said. The operation backfired when the Reagan White House was caught
    planting a false report in The Wall Street Journal about Libya's support
    of terrorism. 
    Under President Bush, Clarke served as assistant secretary of state for
    political and military affairs. In 1992, he was accused by the State
    Department's inspector general of looking the other way as Israel
    transferred American military technology to China.
    "There was an allegation that we hadn't investigated a huge body of
    evidence that the Israelis were involved in technology transfers,"  Clarke
    said. "In fact, we had investigated it. I knew more about it than anyone.
    We found one instance where it was true. The Israelis had taken aerial
    refueling technology we sold them and sold it to a Latin American country.
    We caught them, and they admitted they had done it." 
    He added: "The administration wanted to put heat on the Israeli government
    to create an atmosphere in which the incumbent government might lose an
    election.  The bottom line was I wasn't going to lie. I wasn't going to go
    along with an administration strategy to pressure the Israeli government."
    Sherman Funk, the inspector general who accused Clarke, remembered the
    case differently. 
    "He's wrong," said Funk, the State Department's inspector general from
    1987 to 1994. "He's being very disingenuous. Dick Clarke was unilaterally
    adopting a policy that was counter to the law and counter to the avowed
    policy of the government. It was not up to him to make that determination.
    Almost all the people in his own office disagreed with him. In the end, he
    had to leave the State Department." 
    Clarke joined the National Security Council staff under Bush. He was one
    of the only holdovers embraced by the Clinton administration.  After seven
    years, he has placed proteges in key diplomatic and intelligence
    positions, creating a network of loyalty and solidifying his power. 
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