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Resources | Hysteria roll call

Richard Clarke
Duty status: LIFER (loudmouth infowar federal executive, retired)
Summary: President Clinton appointed Clarke to the National Security Council to prevent terrorism. He ran around the country for years predicting an imminent "electronic Pearl Harbor" (later a "digital Pearl Harbor"). Ironically, Clarke wanted to gut the Freedom of Information Act so government & industry can freely share cyber-threat information. Clarke's cyberwar fears revolve around Chinese über-viruses, but he once proposed giving secure telephones to international antivirus firms that supply China's government with dangerous virus technology. A persistent rumor says he suffered humiliation inside the capitol beltway when the antivirus industry's allegiance to China came to light. Clarke somehow survived the Clinton administration (no small feat), but he toned down his "digital Pearl Harbor" rhetoric. He served as the White House's top counterterrorism advisor on 9/11/01 -- after which the president demoted Clarke for focusing on cyber-terrorism at the expense of physical terrorism. The White House slowly stripped away Clarke's authority until he finally retired from public service. Vmyths believes he exploits a willing media in order to rewrite the history of his failures. The proof is in his book "Against All Enemies," which all but ignores the six years he spent screaming about cyber-terroristm.
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Dan Verton
Duty status: active
Summary: a former intelligence officer who reports on cyber-terrorism for Computerworld. Washington's "beltway bandits" know they can rely on him to provide free ink whenever they want it. Verton destroyed his respectability with a string of absurd "exclusive interviews" with fire-breathing Muslim clerics and narcissistic hackers. His fetish to interview cyber-terrorists once led him to get duped by a reporter posing as one. (Computerworld had to retract one of his stories because of it.) Security experts can't really agree if Verton is dumb like Jethro Clampett or savvy like Geraldo Rivera. One thing is obvious -- Verton abandons a skeptical viewpoint for any "exclusive" story that falls into his lap. He recently inked a book on cyber-terror in which he relied on his own absurd Computerworld stories to make his case.
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mi2g
Duty status: active
Summary: popped out of thin air in early 1999 to predict a virus might destroy the Internet if it set clocks to Y2K before Y2K. Later claimed they found a clock-forwarding Y2K virus, but they didn't reveal it to antivirus firms. Now the media's primary source for absurdly precise virus damage guesstimates, having taken over the job from Computer Economics, Inc. (a fearmonger listed in our hysteria roll call archive). Took a one-year sabbatical from hysteria after the ILoveYou virus failed to destroy the Internet. Tried with limited success to ride on the coattails of a supposed China-U.S. cyberwar and the Code Red worm in mid-2001. "Documents" ficticious cyber-terrorism related to the 9/11/01 terrorism attacks. Accuses detractors of giving uninformed opinions, deviating from acceptable journalism, committing outright libel, and engaging in unethical competition. A press release "urge[s]" gullible reporters to "[use] caution when reading negative commentary against mi2g, which may have been clandestinely funded, aided or abetted by a vendor or a special interest group." Insists "trusted web sites" issued "ransom demands" of up to $1 million "to decommission a negative publicity campaign" launched against them. Failed to identify any "trusted web sites" at the time, but they did later point a finger at Vmyths. Specifically accuses Vmyths of libel, extortion, inciting hate, privacy invasion, and telephone harrassment. Threatened to sue Vmyths in 2002 for "publishing material about mi2g which is not true and illfounded." Made another "cease and desist" demand in 2004. (Vmyths has issued no retractions to date.)
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Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY)
Duty status: active
Summary: a mildly racist senator who would ban Arab & Chinese students from U.S. computer classrooms (listen). Insiders believe the senator from New York works as a lieutenant under fearmonger Richard Clarke (see above). Schumer's speeches on cybersecurity seem to bear Clarke's fingerprints. Reading from a prepared statement, he once declared "we came within about four hours [of losing the Internet]" in 2001 thanks to the Code Red worm.
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iDefense, Inc.
Duty status: emerging from bankruptcy
Summary: a "beltway bandit" famous for writing detailed reports on cyber-wars that never occurred. Fearmonger James Adams created the firm to exploit "the enormous market opportunity presented by Presidential Decision Directive 63" -- the same directive which established DHS NIPC (another fearmonger, see below) and which employed Richard Clarke until his demotion (another fearmonger, see above). Adams promoted himself to the media as a high-level NSA official; he insists "I am very aware of everything that is going on in the classified arena" of U.S. cyber-war efforts. Former employee Ben Venzke received excellent media exposure as a cyber-war analyst who studied "escalating cyber attacks" in the Gaza region. (Venzke left the firm for unknown reasons. He's still a beltway bandit, but now he analyzes physical terrorism.) iDefense filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection because they didn't profit enough from constant media exposure. True to form, the company went on to predict a "cyber version" of the deadly anthrax postal attacks. iDefense now "buys" software vulnerabilities (including working exploit code) from freelance hackers, then issues thinly veiled "advisories" to generate publicity for itself. They also continue to publish absurd "threat assessments."
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Hysteria roll call (archive)
Fearmongers who no longer contribute to global virus hysteria...
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