Cult Chieftain Flogs Book: Richard Clarke — threat or menace?

Posted in Cyberterrorism, Extremism at 10:34 am by George Smith

“How vulnerable would the U.S. be if a global cyberwar broke out today?” writes some cyberwar fugleman at a Forbes blog.

“Vulnerable enough, according to Richard Clarke, former anti-terrorism czar under Presidents Bush and Clinton, that he rates our odds behind even those of our most Luddite adversary: North Korea.”

For the Cult of Cyberwar, even the most backward country becomes a deadly menace to the United States. Simply because it is such a backward country! Brilliantly nefarious!

Plus — Richard Clarke has a new book to sell. So it’s a good hook.

“That’s because, as Clarke writes in a new book, Cyberwar: The Next National Security Threat And What To Do About It, cyberwarfare preparedness isn’t just a matter of training a crack team of superhackers. It’s also a matter of how porous a nation’s cyberborders are. American corporations and government agencies are more integrated into the Internet than their counterparts in North Korea, where most of the country has access to only a tightly controlled Intranet known as Kwangmyong.”

A tidbit is then sampled from the Clarke book. Here is a sentence of it:

Moreover, North Korea has so few systems dependent upon cyberspace that a major cyber war attack on North Korea would cause almost no damage.

Clarke’s book is said to offer a “handy chart” on national cyberwar capabilities across the globe. How one determines such a thing is presumably beyond dispute.

“Earlier this week, former NSA director Mike McConnell told a congressional hearing that the U.S. would likely lose a cyberwar and followed up with a lengthy editorial in the Washington Post,” in case you missed it everyplace else.

The Paller-scope is called into play:

As SANS research director Alan Paller told us at the time, we shouldn’t underestimate the cyber capabilities of countries with undeveloped or even stone-age economies: “We have this view of our enemies as being unsophisticated cave dwellers, and we’re dead wrong. It’s an idea that could get us into very deep trouble over the next few years.”

“Richard Clarke, the world’s most famous security expert, has a new book entitled Breakpoint, wrote DD back in 2007.

“A techno-thriller, it takes its place among its equivalents, romance fictions for American men, a genre for combining combat action porn with loving trademarked descriptions of weapons. The men in this story get hard over firearms, scotch and a chardonnay named Kistler … Clarke [was] the last cyberczar among cyberczars, the only TV-genic one, ever.

“For Breakpoint, Clarke [returned] to his cyberczar roots. But in this story, someone gets to do something about the digital mayhem, not just scream ‘electronic Pearl Harbor,’ make policy recommendations no one listens to and be keynote speaker at security conventions.

“Clarke supplies a team of outside-the-bureaucracy do-gooders: a dauntless central heroine, one NYPD cop for muscle and one hacker, a nebbish named Soxster. Soxter’s purpose is to be the magic wand, no more and no less. Whenever there are villains to be traced, or information needed when the group is against the wall in the race against the terror clock, Soxter furnishes both so the story may proceed.”

The rest of it is here.

Richard Clarke is among the best DD has ever seen at flogging it.

His peddling of the coming of cyberwar is years long, stubbornly dogged and personally eminently successful.

From 1999, back when DD began noticing, this in Signal magazine on the coming of ‘electronic Pearl Harbor’ (note — this was eleven, that’s eleven, years ago):

In the August ’99 issue of Signal magazine, Richard Clarke said there was “a very real possibility of an electronic Pearl Harbor.”

“Without computer-controlled networks, there is no water coming out of your tap; there is no electricity lighting your room; there is no food being transported to your grocery store; there is no money coming out of your bank; there is no 911 system responding to emergencies; and there is no Army, Navy and Air Force defending the country . . . All of these functions, and many more, now can only happen if networks are secure and functional.”

It’s a handy citation and was last used in one of the always popular Cult of Cyberwar pieces last year here.

Richard Clarke is so great, he even made me famous for a day! That’s hard to do! And that even got my picture on the frontpage of the Village Voice!

That story, also vaguely connected to the Cult of Cyberwar and US politics, is here in “I, Vermin from Under Rock.”


[Clarke] bequeathed the nation a haystack of quotes leading idiots to believe terrorists were going to devastate us through computer networks.

That was by 2006. It’s probably up to about six haystacks worth now.

Cult of Cyberwar — from the archives.

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