Clark Kent Ervin's Headshot

Clark Kent Ervin

- Panelist Blurb

As the first Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security, probably no one knows more about where the United States is vulnerable to attack than Clark Kent Ervin. Now Paul H. Nitze Fellow at the Aspen Institute and director of its Homeland Security Initiative, this spring he published Open Target: Where America Is Vulnerable to Attack.

As Department of Homeland Security Inspector General, Ervin's job was to evaluate the department's effectiveness. In his book, Ervin talks candidly about how he was pressured by top leaders to sugarcoat his findings, how his refusal to spin the truth cost him his job, the ways that the United States remains open to terrorist attack and how to reform a department that is in disarray.

Open Target looks at the problems within the Department of Homeland Security and focuses on all the major "open doors" to future terrorist threat: air attack, port security and nuclear attack, mass transit, infrastructure and "soft targets" like our intelligence capabilities - and outlines the steps we should be taking to prepare to defend ourselves.

Ervin is a lawyer and Rhodes Scholar with a distinguished career of public service in both federal and state government. He served in the first Bush White House from 1989 to 1991 as Associate Director of Policy in the Office of National Service and worked on the "Thousand Points of Light" volunteer initiative. He served in Texas state government under then-governor George W. Bush, as Assistant Secretary of State, Deputy Attorney General, General Counsel, and Director of Administration in the office of the Attorney General. A long-time friend of President Bush, Ervin served as Inspector General of the State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors before joining the newly formed Department of Homeland Security.

At the Aspen Institute Homeland Security Initiative, Ervin convenes public and private sector leaders in seminars and conferences to discuss and debate relevant issues and to make recommendations for constructive change. Areas of focus include the causes and contributing factors of terrorism, efforts to integrate different terrorist watch lists and act more effectively on them, port security and ways to balance homeland security and civil liberties.

NOTE: Bio is as it appeared in the Forum program from February 8, 2007