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Resources | Hysteria roll call: Richard Clarke

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.
Clarke: Watergate redux
Vmyths columnist Lew Koch (writing here for Raw Story) compares Richard Clarke to Watergate tattler John Dean. "Three decades and six presidents later, we have Richard Clarke, instead of John Dean, testifying before the 9/11 Commission, providing an insider's ear and eye to the clumsy, Machiavellian missteps of the Bush administration... [But Clarke himself is] responsible for coining the doom-laden phase 'Cyber Pearl Harbor,' a hobgoblin cyberterrorism threat as realistic as the 1983 computer-cum-nuclear doomsday film War Games. Alert to Clarke (now ensconced in the comfortable groves of academe at Harvard, counting his royalties) —- Hey Richard, name one person who died from cyberterrorism?"
Rush Limbaugh: ''Clarke demotion explains it all''
Popular radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh praised Vmyths editor-at-large George C. Smith for exposing the hysteria that consumed Richard Clarke during his tenure at the White House. Clarke's cyber-terrorism fetish led to a demotion for failing to do his real job on 9/11. "Maybe he started singing this cyber song to the Bush administration, and they said, 'This guy is a nut,' and moved him over there. They moved him over there, out of the loop and this is why he's so mad. He was wrong about all this. He thought cyberspace was where the next wave of terrorism and all the new threats were going to emanate from, and they didn't. He made a wrong call. He's a discredited old guy and so now he's trying to recapture his credit and credibility... This Clarke guy was demoted by Condoleezza Rice to the cyberspace unit. Nobody took it seriously, and he knows it. He was out, and [George C. Smith's article] explains it."
Rush Limbaugh grills Dick Cheney on Richard Clarke's demotion
Popular radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh grilled Vice President Dick Cheney during a 22 March 2004 interview. The topic: Richard Clarke. Limbaugh had read (and recommended to his audience) Vmyths editor-at-large George C. Smith's piece on Clarke. At the start of the interview, Limbaugh asked Cheney why the White House didn't fire Clarke outright:
[Clarke] was moved out of the counterterrorism business over to the cyber security side of things, that is he was given a new assignment at some point here. I don't recall the exact time frame.
Cyber security, meaning Internet security?
Yes, worried about attacks on the computer systems and the sophisticated information technology systems we have these days that an adversary would use or try to the system against us.
Well, now that explains a lot, that answer right there explains -- (Laughter.)
Well, he wasn't -- he wasn't in the loop, frankly, on a lot of this stuff. And I saw part of his interview last night, and he wasn't--
He was demoted.
It was as though he clearly missed a lot of what was going on...
Clarke advocates the permanent destruction of knowledge so cyber-terrorists can't acquire it
Washington Post staff writer Laura Blumenfeld reports on a graduate student's dissertation that has fearmongers up in arms. "'He should turn it in to his professor, get his grade -- and then they both should burn it,' said Richard Clarke, who until recently was the White House cyberterrorism chief..."
It's obvious when you compare the two (part 3)
Vmyths editor Rob Rosenberger uses a side-by-side comparison to show the difference between the USS Cole attack and the Nimda virus attack. According to Richard Clarke's own estimates, a computer virus caused 3-5 times more damage. And Clarke should know -- he was the White House point man during both attacks...
I learned a lot from PBS Frontline
The demoted White House flunky made a prominent appearance in a PBS Frontline "Cyber War!" episode. Vmyths editor Rob Rosenberger focused on some of oddities about Clarke's statements -- statements which seem to rewrite the history of his failures. "[I learned that] soon after 9/11, White House counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke decided to fly around the country to look at routers & hubs while the rest of Washington's counterterrorism task force fixated on Osama bin Laden's terrorist network..."
Cyberterror and professional paranoiacs correspondent Declan McCullagh takes on Washington's reigning cyber-war fearmonger. "Clarke was a professional paranoiac, a modern-day Chicken Little blinkered by a career spent in the cloistered intelligence community... Soon after President Clinton appointed him to a 'national coordinator' post in 1998, Clarke became infamous for darkling warnings about the specter of a 'digital Pearl Harbor' that would snarl computers and roil the world's economy... Clarke's penchant for the dramatic, which I witnessed firsthand when I spent an hour interviewing him in December 2001, extended to a farewell statement he circulated in January. It warned of the dangers of the SQL Slammer worm, which infected servers running Microsoft software. In that statement, Clarke claimed that Slammer 'disabled some root servers, the heart of Internet traffic.' Not true... Clarke also claimed that aa national election/referendum in Canada was canceled' due to computer mischief. At best, that was a reckless exaggeration..."
Richard Clarke's legacy of miscalculation
Vmyths editor-at-large George C. Smith (writing here for SecurityFocus) slaps "the outgoing cybersecurity czar [who] will be remembered for his steadfast belief in the danger of Internet attacks, even while genuine threats developed elsewhere... Years ago, Clarke bet his national security career on the idea that electronic war was going to be real war. He lost, because as al Qaeda and Iraq have shown, real action is still of the blood and guts kind..."
Richard Clarke: American Grandstand security curmudgeon "Jericho" bashes the White House cybersecurity czar upon news of his retirement. Among other things, he bashes his decision to retire. "Ariana Cha of the Washington Post calls Clarke's plan his most ambitious endeavor. I disagree. Clarke prepares and submits this strategy, only to resign his position as the Cyber Security Czar, leaving his successor with an impossible task. When asked why he is resigning, he 'simply wants to pursue new challenges outside government after 30 years of public service.' I say [BS]. Were he the ambitious sort that Cha praises, he would stick around to implement the plan..."

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