More implications from Dick's bag of tricks

I feel somewhat chagrined and at times like this I almost feel like apologizing. (Or at least implying an apology, as a sort of face-saver.)

I now see that Richard Clarke was "the driving force behind the government's Y2K efforts."

So says David J. Rothkopf, former Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce, chairman and CEO of Intellibridge Corporation and an adjunct professor of international affairs at Columbia University.

(There now! Isn't that a better source than, or maybe even WorldNetDaily? It's all because I did this research under the strict supervision of Justin Case, who disapproves of my lazy tendencies and who insists I cite only the top-shelf sources.....)

Clarke's "Mr. Y2K" role is confirmed by the Christian Science Monitor:

At the top of the [Y2K] pyramid is Richard Clarke, the National Security Council terrorism czar who will coordinate domestic and international efforts. He will be backed by city and state police departments, US border guards, the Pentagon, the Justice Department, the State Department, the FBI, the CIA, and other agencies.

According to a November 2002 article -- Joshua Green's The Myth of Cyberterrorism, hype is nothing new to Richard Clarke:

Profit of Doom

At the center of all this hype is Richard Clarke, special adviser to the president for cyberspace security, a veteran of four administrations, and terrorism czar to Bill Clinton. Even though he was a senior Clinton official, Clarke's legendary bureaucratic skills saw him through the transition; and when replaced by Gen. Wayne Downing after September 11, Clarke created for himself the position of cybersecurity czar and continued heralding the threat of cyberattack. Understanding that in Washington attention leads to resources and power, Clarke quickly raised the issue's profile. "Dick has an ability to scare the bejesus out of everybody and to make the bureaucracy jump," says a former colleague. The Bush administration has requested a 64 percent increase in cybersecurity funds for next year.

Last month, I paid Clarke a visit in his office a few blocks west of the White House to talk about the threat and discovered that even he is beginning to wilt under the false pretense of cyberterrorism. As I was led back to meet him, his assistant made an odd request: "Mr. Clarke doesn't like to talk about the source of the threat, he'd rather focus on the vulnerability." And indeed, the man who figured most prominently in hyping the issue seemed particularly ill at ease discussing it.

While he might not enjoy discussing it, Clarke is not new to tricks. In fact, he thought that the Y2K clamor served as a neat "trick" to get people to do what he thought they ought to be doing:
During year 2000 IT modifications, the SEC required Y2K certification by public companies. "We got away with that because it was a one-year trick, and you can trick people for one year," Clarke said. That Y2K certification was a "device" to get CIOs in front of their boards of directors to provide funds for date change fixes, he said.
Clarke is such a tricky puzzle.

I'm intrigued by the use of devices and tricks, though and if I'd known Clarke was into that sort of thing, I would have taken more time the other day instead of hastily tacking him to a post which started out being about Mahathir Mohamad. I think I upset a commenter who responded by calling me names and stuff. I am so sorry this happened that I am thinking that maybe I should re-work my implication -- and imply that Kerry and Clarke aren't into appeasement.

Anything to appease.....

Let's see... how did I imply whatever it was I implied? I said,

if the idea is to realign U.S. foreign policy so as to avoid irritating al Qaida, I think it is fair to ask whether this might work. Isnít that what so many people call appeasement? Can appeasement be made to work? If so, then Kerry is clearly the guy to make a case for it.
Now, let's rework that to make everybody happy:
if the idea is to realign U.S. foreign policy so as not to avoid irritating al Qaida, I think it is fair to ask whether this might work. Isnít that what so many people call non-appeasement? Can non-appeasement be made to work? If so, then Kerry is clearly the guy to make a case for it.
Or am I not allowed to speculate about whether Kerry is a non-appeaser? I mean, do I have to speculate only one way? Both Clarke and Kerry are tough to predict; you never know what they'll say next. So I think in fairness to them and myself I ought to be entitled to speculate both ways.

But is it more "dishonest" to speculate one way than the other? Assume Kerry declares himself to be against appeasement. Is it dishonest to even speculate about whether that's true? Or to imply that it might not be?

Aren't bloggers allowed to speculate?

Does posing that question imply that they are?

In all honesty, I don't know what to imply or how to speculate about Richard Clarke -- whose statements imply many things, and are as amazing as they are amusing. Like this gem:

"every single time throughout recorded history, without a single exception, mankind learned its lessons the hard way numerous times about the dangers of every single technological advancement. I want mankind to learn just once, the easy way about the horrifying dangers of the Internet while I'm still alive so I can take ex post facto credit for saving a third of humanity from those cyber-terrorists and cyber-wars I constantly screamed about before 9/11."
I couldn't have implied it any better myself!

NOTE: There's more cool Clarke stuff here, here, and best of all here:

The year of the Clarke: 1999.
(Future Nostalgia implied, I think.)

UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for linking to this post, especially for the kind remark that stuff like the above is seldom found in newspaper accounts. A big welcome to all new readers!

MORE: The ongoing saga of Richard Clarke's numerous prevarications (link via Glenn Reynolds) leaves me aghast. I've been watching politics closely for many decades, and rarely have I seen a more thoroughly unreliable "whistle blower." (Of course, there's always John Dean, who I think history will eventually show to be the granddaddy of all prevaricators, but that's a bit off-topic.... Forgive my cynicism! If only they'd had bloggers back in the 70s....)

I don't know whether to take anything Richard Clarke says seriously. But I'll still try....

posted by Eric on 03.24.04 at 11:23 PM


Great post, Eric! I have done a couple of posts on Clarke over the past couple of days (here and here), although not on the cyberterrorism angle. Clarke seems to be obsessed with his own role in whatever actions were taken on terrorism. If he did it, it was good and noble; if someone else was responsible, then whatever they did isn't as good as what Clarke would have done.

Clarke's charges against the Bush Admin. are all hypotheticals, and all centered around whether or not Clarke was "in charge".

Clay Ranck   ·  March 25, 2004 12:44 PM

My mother's maiden name is Clarke.

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