Clarke Leaving Security Post

Richard Clarke, the president's top information security adviser, is planning to retire within the next month.

Richard Clarke, the presidents top information security adviser, is planning to retire within the next month, leaving a power vacuum at the top of the governments security structure at a crucial point in the development of the nascent Department of Homeland Security.

Clarke, chairman of the Presidents Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, has been the driving force behind the development of the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace. He plans to leave once the final version of the document is released, sources said. No exact date has been set for the strategys release, but is expected by the end of February.

Clarke, who has been a member of the National Security Council since 1992 and has been in government service for 30 years, is leaving to join the private sector, sources said.

His departure throws into question the future structure of the PCIPB, which is slated to become part of Homeland Security. President Bush created the board through an executive order, and it was designed to serve as a group of expert advisers on information security issues.

However, that function effectively will become redundant once the new department is fully staffed and operational, experts said, and Clarkes role in Homeland Security would have been ill-defined.

"A lot of people are wondering whats going on. Does [Clarkes] position stay in support of the White House or does it support [Homeland Security chief Tom] Ridge?" said Pete Allor, director of operations for the Information Technology Information Sharing and Analysis Center and manager of X-Force Threat Intelligence Services at Internet Security Systems Inc., in Atlanta, who works closely with government officials on security issues. "He works for Bush, but if he has duties with Homeland Security, he has two different bosses. Thats too much to do. I wouldnt be too keen on it. Everyone thinks you work for them."

The logical successor to Clarke is Howard Schmidt, vice chairman of the PCIPB and former chief security officer at Microsoft Corp. However, Washington sources say no decision on a possible successor to Clarke has been made.

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