Cyber War: The Next Threat To National Security And What To Do About It, by Richard A. Clarke

The time has finally come for me to wade into the controversy of Richard Clarke's latest book Cyber War: The Next Threat To National Security And What To Do About It.

First, for full disclosure.  I met Richard Clarke, and he was very generous to we with his time and advice.  He is very smart, and he has experience personally more counter terrorism operations than most of us will ever read about. He is a close colleague of a friend of mine, so my opinion may be biased.

Reviews of the book have spanned the spectrum from very positive to very negative.  Generally, it appears to me that policy makers and lawyers greet it positively, while computer techies have gone as far as to call it "pure fantasy."  The book is open to criticism because it is thinly sourced.  There are, I think, some good reasons why citations to authority are almost non-existent.  Clarke is writing for the masses, not for academics.  He is attempting to sound the alarm to the public at large.  Indeed, two of his previous works on cyber were novels, because he reportedly felt that a fictional tale was the best way to convey his message.  This new book is non-fiction.

In addition, some things presented in the book Clarke simply knows from first hand experience or from sources he can not cite.

Critics have argued that some assertions he makes already have been disproved elsewhere.  It is, I think, more accurate to say that in instances where no one knows for sure what happened, he has presented the version that he believes without citing evidence to the contrary.  One review I read blasted him for attributing the Estonian attacks to Russia, stating that such had been proven false.  That goes too far, I think.  Such issues are not resolved for certain one way or the other, at least not in the unclassified realm.  Some of Clarke's "facts" are disputed without his acknowledging the disputes.

In my opinion, the book is very good at the purpose for which it was written.  It would be useful background reading for our course, and I would add it to a summer reading list.  I have decided, however, to not make it a required text during the term.

You can buy the book on Amazon at this link.  For $18, I recommend that you read it.  But, it will not be required.


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One Response to “Cyber War: The Next Threat To National Security And What To Do About It, by Richard A. Clarke”

  1. William C. Snyder says:

    Professor Jack Goldsmith’s review of this book can be found at the link below. Goldsmith, you may recall, is a highly regarded and high-ranking professor at Harvard. Clarke is an Adjunct Professor at Harvard, probably one of very few who holds such a position with a Bachelor’s degree being his highest formal academic degree.
    The New Vulnerability | The New Republic.

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Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

Ryan D. White

Ryan D. WhiteRyan is currently a third year law student at Syracuse University College of Law, and is also pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Ryan spent time with Homeland Security Investigations while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and spent his first summer of law school as clerk for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York. He is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and participates in the Veteran’s Legal Clinic. Full biography

Shelby E. Mann

Ryan D. WhiteShelby is a second year law student at the Syracuse University College of Law. She is the 2018-9 Editor in Chief of the Syracuse Law Review, as well as a member of the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and the senior editor for the Syrian Accountability Project. During her final year at the University of Missouri, she served as a full-time news producer for ABC 17 News. Shelby spent her first summer of law school at the Shelby County District Attorney General's Office in Memphis, Tenn., in the Public Corruption and Economic Crimes Unit. Full biography

Christopher w. FolkChristopher W. Folk

is a 2017 graduate of SU College of Law. A non-traditional student, Christopher returned to academia after spending nearly twenty years in the high tech industry. Christopher served in the Marine Corps, graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. In Applied Economics and Business Management, attended Northeastern University’s High-Tech MBA Program and received a M.S. In Computer Information Systems. Christopher previously worked in Software Engineering. Christopher is currently serving his second term as Town Justice for the Town of Waterloo. Christopher externed with a Cybersecurity firm in the Washington, D.C. area between his first and second year at SU College of Law. Full biography

Anna Maria Castillo

Anna Maria Castillois 2016 graduate of Syracuse College of Law. She also holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She has interned at a London-based think-tank that specializes in transnational terrorism and global security and at the legal department of a defense contractor. She served as an executive editor in the Syracuse Law Review. Full biography

Jennifer A. CamilloJennifer A. Camillo

is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse College of Law and is a prosecutor. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office and as an extern in the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. She was a member of the Syracuse National Trial Team and was awarded the Tiffany Cup by the New York Bar Association for her trial advocacy achievements.

Tara J. PistoreseTara J. Pistorese

holds Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Administration degrees from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and its College of Law. She wrote for this blog when a student. She is now a member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Benjamin Zaiser

is both a scholar and a Federal Agent of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. (Opinions expressed here are his own and not any part of official duty.) Full biography


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