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[infowar.de] NYT über Richard Clarkes Rücktritt als Cyber-Sicherheits"zar"
New York Times, 2.2.2003
Departing Security Official Highlights Cyber Threat
By JUDITH MILLER
Richard A. Clarke, the blunt, sometimes abrasive White House adviser who
raised the alarm about unconventional national security threats ranging
from failed states to biological and computer terrorism for more than a
decade, quietly resigned as President Bush's special adviser for
cyberspace security on Friday.
In an interview after his last day in office, Mr. Clarke warned that
although the government had made considerable progress in defending its
electronic infrastructure from computer attacks, the United States faced
ever greater peril, given its growing dependence on the Internet.
"A sophisticated cyberattack may not result in massive deaths," he said.
"But it could really hurt our economy and diminish our ability to
respond to a crisis, especially if it is combined with a war, or a
Mr. Clarke said the attack last weekend by a computer bug known as the
Sapphire worm showed the vulnerability of the United States'
increasingly Internet-based economy. Though it was a relatively simple
bug, he said, Sapphire, which has also been called Slammer, ravaged
systems throughout the United States and overseas in just a few hours,
shutting down some of the Bank of America's automated teller machines
and Continental Airlines' online ticketing system, and denying access to
the Internet to millions of personal computer owners.
"Don't assume that the damage done by hackers in the past is predictive
of the future," Mr. Clarke said. "As Sept. 11 showed, as long as our
vulnerabilities are large, some enemy will exploit them in a new and
hugely damaging way."
Before tackling the country's computer vulnerabilities, Mr. Clarke was
in charge of the White House's counterterrorism office for President
Bush and President Bill Clinton. He sometimes antagonized officials in
federal agencies and even some White House colleagues by demanding more
aggressive action against Islamic extremists like Osama bin Laden. Mr.
Clarke, associates said, was an ardent proponent of military action not
only against Mr. bin Laden, but also against the Taliban government of
Afghanistan, which provided a home for him and his terrorist network, Al
After the Sept. 11 attacks, colleagues said, he played a critical role
in the White House situation room, helping to ground the nation's
airliners and to increase security at other vulnerable targets.
Mr. Clarke said the nation is safer today than before Sept. 11 because
Al Qaeda's sanctuary in Afghanistan is gone and because Americans had
rounded up hundreds of Qaeda operatives abroad and tightened aviation
security overseas and domestically.
"But we still don't have control of our borders, or sufficient control
of terrorist money transfers," he said. "And we still don't know where
all the potential sleeper cells are in the U.S."
At the same time, he said, he feared that civil rights might be eroding
in the struggle against terrorism. "When we sacrifice our civil
liberties and privacy rights, the terrorists win because they have
gotten us to change the nature of our country," he said.
Despite having fought terrorism for more than 11 years, he said, "I have
never seen one reason to infringe on privacy or civil liberties."
Mr. Clarke said he was leaving his post now because "11 years in the
White House and a total of 30 in government is more than enough," and
because President Bush would soon unveil a new national strategy to
protect the nation's information infrastructure, which Mr. Clarke and
his team had drafted.
Associates said Mr. Clarke was becoming increasingly weary of battling a
federal bureaucracy that was resistant to considering new issues like
cyberterrorism as real threats.
Mr. Clarke dismissed reports that his bureaucratic opponents had blocked
him from being offered a senior post in the new Department of Homeland
In a recent book, Anthony Lake, a national security adviser to President
Clinton, called Mr. Clarke "a bulldog of a bureaucrat" and noted that
his "bluntness toward those at his level" had not earned him "universal
In response, Mr. Clarke said: "This was not a popularity contest. When
you are working on life-and-death issues, you sometimes have to bring
out the bulldozer."
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