[ISN] Ex-cybersecurity czar blasts Bush's efforts

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Tue May 18 06:14:36 EDT 2004


[ http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0743260244/c4iorg  - WK]

By William New
National Journal's Technology Daily
May 17, 2004 

Richard Clarke became a national celebrity in recent months for his
criticisms of the Bush administration's handling of the 2001 terrorist
attacks. Now the former White House official is extending that
criticism to the administration's handling of cybersecurity.

Clarke, who moved in spring 2001 from his job as White House
counter-terrorism chief to head a new White House cybersecurity office
created on his recommendation, said the administration has made
cybersecurity too low a priority.

Clarke shared his criticisms about administration anti-terrorism
policy with the independent panel investigating intelligence
activities before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.  
Administration witnesses -- including National Security Adviser
Condoleeza Rice -- also testified to rebut those charges and defend
administration policy, although cybersecurity issues were not a major
focus of those discussions.

In his best-selling book Against All Enemies, Clarke said
cybersecurity needs more attention. In an interview last week with
National Journal's Technology Daily, he detailed what he thinks has
gone wrong since his office completed a national cybersecurity plan
early in 2003.

"I think the national strategy fell essentially on deaf ears," he
said. "The president signed it, the president issued it, there was the
usual amount of lip service to it, but then nothing ever happened for
the better part of a year."

Under criticism from him and people outside government, the
administration agreed to create the national cybersecurity division in
the Homeland Security Department, he said. "They bought some time from
criticism by announcing they were going to do it, but then they didn't
appoint anyone to run it for the longest period of time."

When the administration did name someone, he said, it was too
low-level a position to have governmentwide impact. That might change,
however, Clarke said, as House Republicans are interested in elevating
the position to the assistant-secretary level and legislatively giving
that person authority over cyber security in other departments.

He also criticized the administration for cutting overall funding for
cybersecurity research and for not creating a federal government that
is a model of how to do cybersecurity. "Most of the departments are
still in bad shape," he said.

Clarke said that in January 2001, Rice and her deputy, Steve Hadley,
asked him to look for ways to spin off portions of his portfolio. He
proposed a separate White House cybersecurity office.

"I surprised them by proposing myself to run it, since they thought I
was obsessed with terrorism and would never want to leave that issue,"  
Clarke said. "But at the time, I thought they were not obsessed with
terrorism, and if they were not going to treat terrorism with the
importance it deserved I didn't want to work on it for them."

He also saw cybersecurity as "a future area of threat" that was
unappreciated. "One of the things I've been able to do in my career is
to find emerging issues and help them emerge," he said.

Clarke left for the private sector shortly after the release of the
National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, following 30 years of federal

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