President establishes new offices for cybersecurity and counterterrorism

President establishes new offices for cybersecurity and counterterrorism

President Bush today established new offices for cybersecurity and counterterrorism, and put the National Security Council's Richard Clarke in charge of cyberspace.

Clarke, who is NSC's coordinator for security, infrastructure protection and counterterrorism, will become special adviser to the president for cyberspace security. Retired Army Gen. Wayne Downing will become the national director and deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism.

Both men will report to the assistant to the president for national security affairs and to former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, head of the new Office of Homeland Security.

Clarke also will serve as chairman of the governmentwide board that will coordinate protecting critical information systems that the president is expected to establish soon.

Clarke, who joined NSC in 1993, will coordinate interagency and private-sector efforts to secure information systems and will direct restoring critical systems in the event of disruption. The Information Technology Association of America endorsed his appointment, calling his 'one of the early voices in warning American and the world about the dangers of cyberterrorism.'

Downing, as adviser for combating terrorism, will be the president's principal counselor on global terrorism, including that based inside the United States.

Clarke's new position is part of a redistribution of national critical infrastructure protection. President Bush in May ordered a re-evaluation of efforts to protect government, communications, banking, transportation, energy, utilities and emergency services infrastructures and the networks connecting them. He is expected to sign an executive order soon incorporating the results of the study.

Clarke is widely rumored to be the choice to head the President's Critical Infrastructure Protection and Continuity Board that will be established under the order.

Clarke said on Sept. 11 that the study would reject the idea of a central IT czar who would oversee cybersecurity. He said that the new order would make each agency responsible for its own security, and would call for better cooperation with the private sector.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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