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[infowar.de] Stewart Baker, ehem. NSA-Chefjurist, wird assistant secretary for policy im DHS
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- Subject: [infowar.de] Stewart Baker, ehem. NSA-Chefjurist, wird assistant secretary for policy im DHS
- From: Ralf Bendrath <bendrath -!
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- Date: Fri, 15 Jul 2005 16:43:15 +0200
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Bush picks tech lawyer for security post
By Declan McCullagh
Story last modified Wed Jul 13 18:00:00 PDT 2005
President Bush has chosen Stewart Baker, one of Washington's most
influential technology lawyers, to be assistant secretary for policy in
the Homeland Security Department.
Baker's new job, which requires Senate confirmation, would place him in
the prominent position of shaping policy on topics from data mining to the
department's planning for "what if" scenarios far off in the future. It
also could include evaluating existing department functions for efficiency
and creating a national strategy to prevent terrorists from entering the
The nomination, announced Wednesday, is part of a sweeping reorganization
of the department that Secretary Michael Chertoff announced Wednesday.
"Creation of a DHS policy shop has been suggested by members of Congress,
(former Secretary Tom Ridge), and numerous outside experts," Chertoff
said. "Now is the time to make this a reality."
Baker is currently a partner at the Steptoe and Johnson law firm--which
counts many technology companies as clients--and has been an important but
polarizing fixture in many privacy debates during the last 15 years.
Baker served as the general counsel of the National Security Agency--the
bane of many civil libertarians--during the early 1990s. At the time, the
NSA was busy defending the Clipper Chip, intrusive export controls on
encryption products, and "key escrow" rules that would encourage
encryption backdoors for police convenience.
In a famous article published in the June 1994 issue of Wired Magazine,
Baker warned against the ready availability of strong, secure encryption
products without backdoors. "One of the earliest users of (Pretty Good
Privacy) was a high-tech pedophile in Santa Clara, California," Baker
wrote. "He used PGP to encrypt files that, police suspect, include a diary
of his contacts with susceptible young boys using computer bulletin boards
all over the country."
After the Senate approved what would become the Patriot Act in September
2001, Baker said privacy advocates were overreacting: "We may be missing
some opportunities to improve privacy law, but it's hard to say that the
privacy sky is falling."
Those kind of statements have not endeared Baker to privacy advocates, who
reacted with dismay when hearing news of the announcement Wednesday.
"For the civil liberties community, this could be a troubling
appointment," said Marc Rotenberg, director of the Electronic Privacy
Information Center. "Stu Baker often stood on the other side of important
national debates on protecting privacy and preserving open government."
The simultaneous announcements Wednesday by Bush and Chertoff appear to be
inspired by a December 2004 report from the conservative Heritage
Foundation that urged a shakeup at the Department of Homeland Security. It
recommended the creation of a "unified policy planning staff headed by an
undersecretary for policy."
But because the creation of a policy undersecretary post would require
Congress to rewrite the law--which could take months at best--Baker was
picked for the newly created post of assistant secretary for policy. That
post requires Senate confirmation but not a change to the law.
Baker recently served as general counsel for the Commission on the
Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass
Destruction, and represents Internet service providers as general counsel
of a trade association. He received his law degree from UCLA and clerked
for U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.
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