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Richard Alan Clarke was a U.S. government employee for 30 years, 1973–2003. He worked for the State Department during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush appointed him to chair the Counter-terrorism Security Group and to a seat on the United States National Security Council. President Bill Clinton retained Clarke and in 1998 promoted him to be the National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism, the chief counter-terrorism adviser on the National Security Council. Under President George W. Bush, Clarke initially continued in the same position, but the position was no longer given cabinet-level access. He later became the Special Advisor to the President on cybersecurity, before leaving the Bush Administration in 2003.
Clarke came to widespread public attention for his role as counter-terrorism czar in the Clinton and Bush Administrations in March 2004, when he appeared on the 60 Minutes television news magazine, released his memoir about his service in government, Against All Enemies, and testified before the 9/11 Commission. In all three instances, Clarke was sharply critical of the Bush Administration's attitude toward counter-terrorism before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and of the decision to go to war with Iraq. Following Clarke's strong criticisms of the Bush Administration, Bush administration officials and other Republicans attempted to discredit him or rebut his criticisms, making Clarke a controversial figure.