These remarks were delivered by Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin at the 61st annual conference in October, 2007.
Welcome to our 61st Annual Conference. We are very pleased with the turnout and very pleased that you are able to join us this morning. It is my honor this morning to welcome our first speaker who will open the conference, our keynote speaker: Richard Alan Clarke. I am really looking forward to his remarks with both apprehension and appreciation – appreciation because of all the many colleagues that I have worked with over the last thirty years, Dick is one of the very few who I would consider as the most brilliant and effective in actually getting things done in the US government. That is a big statement.
Dick began his career very young, as an analyst in the Department of Defense in 1973. He moved to the State Department, where I first met him in the Political-Military Bureau, where he held an ever-escalating series of jobs of increasing importance – also in the Intelligence and Research Bureau. His final assignment in the US government before he retired – he has not really retired, but before he moved out of the US government – was at the White House, where he served under both the Clinton and the Bush administrations. He served as the national coordinator for security, infrastructure protection and counterterrorism. This was a title that Dick invented because he saw a need. He alone perceived the need for homeland infrastructure protection and he created that within the US government.
Until Dick perceived these need, we were not focusing in the US government on infrastructure protection. He also did the same thing for cyberspace. This is a very creative and effective government servant.
I say apprehension because Dick not only can download enormous amounts of data points on terrorism, but he has a formidable way of connecting those and seeing where it goes. That can be scary.
Being that good is not always easy and Dick has felt enormous frustration in his career, particularly later grief, when he predicted and saw the Usama bin Laden/al-Qa’ida attack on the United States but could not rally attention enough to move to help prevent it. This has been a very frustrating event for him which he writes about and speaks about frequently. Dick has written a super book – I would really recommend all to read it – Against All Enemies. You will find it in the room next door in case you have missed it, although probably this audience has already read it.
Dick has discovered a new calling now, and that is writing novels. I think he has learned that he can actually tell more about what is happening in this murky area of counterterrorism through fiction than he can get approved by government censors in non-fiction books.
So I would like to invite with both appreciation and apprehension Dick Clarke to the podium. Thank you.