Clarke Bails Out Of Homeland Security Department - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
News

Clarke Bails Out Of Homeland Security Department

The president's blunt counterterrorism coordinator rejected a senior position in the department.

WASHINGTON (AP)--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, 2001 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 cybersecurity 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 Qaeda; 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.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
2020 State of DevOps Report
2020 State of DevOps Report
Download this report today to learn more about the key tools and technologies being utilized, and how organizations deal with the cultural and process changes that DevOps brings. The report also examines the barriers organizations face, as well as the rewards from DevOps including faster application delivery, higher quality products, and quicker recovery from errors in production.
Slideshows
10 Top Cloud Computing Startups
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  8/3/2020
Commentary
How Enterprises Can Adopt Video Game Cloud Strategy
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  7/28/2020
Commentary
Conversational AI Comes of Age
Guest Commentary, Guest Commentary,  8/7/2020
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
Enterprise Automation: Do More with Less
In this IT Trend Report, we highlight the benefits of automation and the various tools as enterprises navigate turbulent times, try to do more with less, keep their operations running, and stay on track with digital modernizations.
White Papers
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll