Cybersecurity point man appointed

White House fact sheet

The White House on Oct. 9 officially named Richard Clarke as the president's point man for cybersecurity, giving him responsibility for coordinating all of the administration's information protection initiatives.

As the special adviser to the president for cyberspace security, Clarke will be building on his job of the past three years. In 1998, Clarke became the first national coordinator for security, infrastructure protection and counterterrorism at the National Security Council, leading all initiatives under Presidential Decision Directive 63. PDD 63 requires agencies to protect the information systems that support the nation's critical infrastructure, such as transportation and electric power.

The Bush administration has been working for months on a new executive order to update the oversight structure for critical infrastructure protection within the government. That order, which creates a governmentwide board with Clarke as the chairman, will be signed soon, according to White House officials.

Counterterrorism responsibilities are now held by Tom Ridge, the new director of the Office of Homeland Security, a position created by President Bush in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

In his new role, Clarke will report to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. But he will also report to Ridge and help that office with its mandate to protect information systems from terrorist attacks.

"This position and its mission are vitally important," Ridge said. "In his new role, [Clarke] will be the president's principal adviser on all matters relating to cybersecurity."

Clarke said he will continue to focus on potential cyberattacks from sources other than terrorists. His concerns include threats from hackers, criminals and hostile nation-states. For years he has said the intelligence community has proof that other countries have been training people to use cyberattacks in conjunction with or instead of conventional weapons.

"America has built cyberspace, and America now must defend its cyberspace," he said.

The White House also named retired Army Gen. Wayne Downing as the national director and deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism. Downing will advise the president on efforts to detect, disrupt and destroy global terrorist organizations and their supporters. He will also report to Rice and Ridge.

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