[ISN] White House CyberSecurity Adviser to Resign

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Sat Jan 25 2003 - 03:02:30 PST

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    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A38819-2003Jan24.html
    
    By Ted Bridis
    Associated Press Writer
    Friday, January 24, 2003
    
    WASHINGTON  Richard A. Clarke, a blunt-spoken White House adviser who
    raised warnings about Islamic terrorism and biological weapons years before
    they became nightmare headlines, will resign from government soon, people
    familiar with his plans said.
    
    Clarke, the president's counterterrorism coordinator at the time of the
    Sept. 11 attacks, was disinclined to accept a senior position in the new
    Homeland Security Department and planned to retire after three decades with
    the government, these people said. He has not yet solicited an outside job,
    they said.
    
    These people, working both inside and outside government, spoke on condition
    of anonymity but said Clarke personally described his plans to them. Clarke
    did not return telephone calls from The Associated Press over three days.
    
    Clarke, currently the nation's top cyber-security adviser, is best known for
    his success in identifying emerging issues and outlasting his critics. He
    has focused most recently on preventing disruptions to important computer
    networks from Internet attacks. But he has tempered warnings about a
    "digital Pearl Harbor" after some industry experts mocked them as overblown.
    
    With much of the White House evacuated for safety in the hours after the
    Sept. 11 attacks, Clarke worked in the situation room there with National
    Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney as stunned
    leaders planned what to do next. His supporters said Clarke played a central
    role in the unprecedented decision to quickly ground the nation's airliners.
    
    Clarke previously led the government's secretive Counterterrorism and
    Security Group, made up of senior officials from the FBI, CIA, Justice
    Department and armed services, who met several times each week to discuss
    foreign threats.
    
    "It was really the engine room of the anti-terrorism effort," said Sandy
    Berger, Clinton's former national security adviser and Clarke's former boss.
    "He's not an easy guy. He's very demanding. More than once people would come
    to me and complain, but that's why I wanted Dick in that job: He was pushing
    the bureaucracy."
    
    Clarke also had the ear of President Clinton about the risks from a
    biological attack, years before anthrax poisoned the U.S. mail.
    
    "Dick was the single most effective person I worked with in the federal
    government," said Jonathan M. Winer, a former deputy assistant secretary of
    state. "When he was given the authority, he would stay with something every
    day until it got done. He's efficient and tough-minded. I never saw anyone
    else as good."
    
    Clarke is known for his aggressive  sometimes abrasive  personality and
    for his willingness to bypass bureaucratic channels. Under Clinton, he was
    known to contact Special Forces and other military commanders in the field
    directly, irritating the Joint Chiefs at the Pentagon.
    
    Clarke was "a bulldog of a bureaucrat," wrote former national security
    adviser Anthony Lake in a book two years ago. He said Clarke has "a
    bluntness toward those at his level that has not earned him universal
    affection."
    
    Some senior CIA officials under Clinton complained that Clarke pressed them
    to launch covert programs without adequate preparation or study, said
    Vincent Cannistraro, a former CIA counterterrorism chief.
    
    "He gave the impression he was somewhat of a cowboy," Cannistraro said.
    "There was no love lost between Clarke and the CIA."
    
    Clarke managed largely to avoid Washington's finger-pointing over failures
    to anticipate the Sept. 11 attacks, even though he was the top
    counterterrorism adviser and he was replaced by the White House in that role
    less than one month later.
    
    "Dick in both the Clinton and Bush administrations was the voice pushing
    this forward, calling out about the dangers," said William Wechsler, a
    former director for transnational threats on the National Security Council.
    
    "There's an easy reason why no one is pointing the finger at him."
    
    The security council's director for counterterrorism under Clinton, Daniel
    Benjamin, described Clarke as "a visionary in terms of pushing hard to
    recognize the dangers of al-Qaida; certainly the new administration should
    have attended to his thoughts a little more."
    
    Clarke already has submitted his resignation letter to the president, one
    person said. Clarke is among the country's longest-serving White House
    staffers, hired in 1992 from the State Department to deal with threats from
    terrorism and narcotics.
    
    A spokeswoman, Tiffany Olson, said Clarke, who reports to Rice and Homeland
    Security chief Tom Ridge, hasn't told White House staff at the President's
    Critical Infrastructure Protection Board that he plans to leave.
    
    
    
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