The White House is planning to nominate a former intelligence agency chairman and a high-ranking Commerce Department official to shape the way information technology is used in the fight against terrorism, according to government and technology industry sources.
The nominees will be key players in the new Department of Homeland Security and would be influential on a range of technology issues, including protecting the nation's online infrastructure, directing the development of new surveillance and defense technologies and preserving the privacy rights of citizens.
James R. Clapper, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, will be nominated to lead the department's Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection division. He would be responsible not only for IT security, but also for getting the often-competing intelligence agencies to pool their data. Interagency rivalries contributed to a lack of awareness of terrorist activity that presaged the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to a number of studies.
Commerce Department official John S. Tritak will run the Infrastructure Protection division under Clapper, administration sources said.
In keeping with the White House policy of not discussing appointments until they're made, a spokesman declined to comment. A spokesman for Clapper also declined to comment. Tritak did not return telephone calls seeking comment.
A retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant general, Clapper runs the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, which analyzes satellite photos and makes military maps. He formerly was vice president and director of intelligence programs at SRA International, a Fairfax-based defense contractor.
Tritak, regarded in the business community as a consensus-builder, is seen as a shoo-in for the Infrastructure Protection section. He is the director of the Commerce Department's Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office, which coordinates government and private-sector efforts to protect important networks from physical and cyber-based attacks.
Richard A. Clarke, the White House's cyberspace security point man since 1998, will not join the department, but will remain chairman of the President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, according to one administration official and several technology lobbyists with close ties to the administration's cybersecurity program. That board is responsible for developing the administration's broad policies regarding cybersecurity and protecting against online attacks on the nation's vital infrastructures. The Homeland Security Department will be responsible for carrying out those policies.
The presidential board plans to release a national cybersecurity strategy report this month or in early February.
A senior congressional source said high-ranking CIA officer Joan Dempsey is a strong candidate for the Information Analysis division under Clapper, but a source in the intelligence community disagreed, saying that she is not in the running. The head of the Information Analysis division would be in charge of persuading rival spy agencies to share information.
Collaboration among agencies is tough to achieve, said Kim Dougherty, vice president of national security affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
"Each has this defensive posture and doesn't want to show or share all their cards, and it's vital that you have someone who understands this and can work through the various bureaucracies," Dougherty said.
One key technology post has already been filled at the department. Steven Cooper will be chief information officer, taking on essentially the same role he had for the past year in the White House Office of Homeland Security. Cooper will be responsible for integrating disparate information technology systems from 24 agencies that are moving into the new department. He previously was executive director of Strategic Information Delivery for Corning Inc.
The White House has not yet chosen an undersecretary of science and technology, who would supervise the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency, a division of the department with a proposed $500 million budget. The agency will be modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a Defense Department program that was instrumental in creating the framework of the Internet in the 1960s.
The White House also will name a chief privacy officer for the department, responding to comments from lawmakers, civil-liberties groups and the public that defending against terrorism should not compromise privacy rights.
The administration is considering Nuala O'Connor Kelly, chief counsel at the Commerce Department's Technology Administration, sources said, as well as Donald A. "Andy" Purdy Jr., an adviser on the president's cybersecurity team.
O'Connor Kelly was deputy privacy officer at Internet banner-ad giant DoubleClick Inc. Purdy has been chief deputy general counsel at the U.S. Sentencing Commission since 1989, and a staff member of the Senate Ethics Committee.
Purdy said he is interested in the job. O'Connor Kelly did not return telephone calls seeking comment.