Ervin, Clark Kent 1959- (Clark Ervin)

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Ervin, Clark Kent 1959- (Clark Ervin)


Born April 1, 1959; married Carolyn A. Harris (an educational consultant). Education: Harvard University, B.A., 1980, LL.D, 1985; Oxford University, M.A., 1982.


Home—Washington, DC. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer, attorney, broadcaster, security analyst, and U.S. government official. Vison & Elkins, attorney, 1985-89; Office of National Service, associate director of policy, 1989-91; Locke, Liddell, & Sapp, attorney, 1993-95; State of Texas, assistant secretary of state, 1995-99; Texas Attorney General's Office, deputy attorney general, general counsel, and director of administration, 1999-2001; U.S. Department of State, inspector general, 2001-03; U.S. Department of Homeland Security, acting inspector general, 2003, inspector general, 2003-04; Aspen Institute, Paul H. Nitze Fellow and director of Homeland Security Initiative, 2005—. Serves as on-air analyst and contributor for CNN. Guest on television shows, including The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Nightline.


Council on Foreign Relations.


Rhodes Scholar.


Open Target: Where America Is Vulnerable to Attack, Palgrave Macmillan (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor to periodicals, including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.


Clark Kent Ervin is a writer, attorney, and security expert whose work often focuses on methods for making U.S. borders, ports, and other areas safer against terrorist attack. He received his superheroic name when his brother, eleven years his senior, encouraged his parents to name the newborn Ervin after the alter-ego of his favorite comic book character, Superman. Ervin has served as the assistant Texas secretary of state and deputy attorney general, and as inspector general of the U.S. Department of State.

Ervin's desire to uncover the truth, however, placed him at odds with many in the government, including President George W. Bush himself. Appointed by the president as inspector general of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Ervin quickly delved into the workings of the department. There, he uncovered tremendous waste of resources, ineffective management, stifling bureaucracy, and failed security procedures. Worst of all, he found that the Department of Homeland Security was accomplishing little that would actually make the homeland more secure. These findings caused great conflict between Ervin and his superiors and colleagues. In 2004, he was essentially fired from the job when the president did not act to reappoint him.

In Open Target: Where America Is Vulnerable to Attack, Ervin recounts his months on the job with Homeland Security, explains the troubles he uncovered and the controversies he endured, and sounds a warning that the United States is still highly vulnerable to attack from outside sources. In the book, he "details our vulnerabilities in several categories: borders, aviation, ports, mass transit, infrastructure, intelligence and even our capacity to respond after the fact to an attack," commented Lee H. Hamilton, a former congressman from Indiana, in a review in the Washington Post Book World. "A common thread is the government's difficulty in setting and acting upon priorities—what targets do you protect, what threats do you protect against, and what vulnerabilities do you tolerate?," Hamilton continued. Ervin did not see himself as an enemy of the department; instead, he was an ally of the government and the American people. "Nothing would please me more than those relatively rare occasions when I could say something good about the department," he stated in an interview with Patience Wait in Government Computer News. Above all, Ervin states, he was dedicated to finding and examining the truth, and in making the United States safer and more secure. "I don't take any joy in saying what I am saying—but you have to tell the truth when you are in a job like this," Ervin commented to Michael Scherer in an interview in Mother Jones.

Since leaving DHS, Ervin has become the director of the Homeland Security Initiative at the Aspen Institute, a Washington, DC, think tank, where he works to organize seminars and conferences and issue papers on security issues. His goal is to engage with prominent American leaders "to debate the issues and to make recommendations for constructive change" in security policy and procedures, noted a biographer on the Aspen Institute Web site. Though Ervin is no longer directly connected to the government, he continues, stated a Publishers Weekly reviewer, to warn that "America remains frighteningly vulnerable to terrorism."



Government Computer News, January 20, 2005, "Homeland Security Department," p. 8; May 16, 2005, Patience Wait, "DHS' Track Record Invites Continued Scrutiny," interview with Clark Kent Ervin, p. 19.

Government Security, May 4, 2006, "DHS Has Made America Only ‘Marginally Safer,’ New Book Says," review of Open Target: Where America Is Vulnerable to Attack.

Insight on the News, March 4, 2003, Martin Edwin Andersen, "Ervin Nominated for New IG Office at Homeland Security," p. 10.

Jet, August 19, 2002, "Clark Ervin Is State Dept. Inspector General," p. 37; April 5, 2004, Simeon Booker, "Inspector General of the Homeland Security Agency Is Clark Kent Ervin," p. 16.

Mother Jones, March-April, 2005, Michael Scherer, "Not Mild-Mannered Enough: Clark Kent Ervin Was Hired by His Friend President Bush to Expose Flaws in Homeland Security. Trouble Was, He Did," p. 22.

National Defense, August, 2006, Stew Magnuson, "The Gadfly: Former Staffer Becomes Leading DHS Critic," profile of Clark Kent Ervin, p. 10.

Publishers Weekly, March 27, 2006, review of Open Target, p. 75.

Texas Lawyer, March 14, 2005, Miriam Rozen, "Staying in the Spotlight," profile of Clark Kent Ervin.

Texas Monthly, April, 2005, Robert Draper, "Truth, Justice, and the (UN)American Way," profile of Clark Kent Ervin, p. 140.

USA Today, December 27, 2004, Mimi Hall, "Clark Kent Ervin, Homeland Security Official Who Exposed Waste and Incompetence, Rewarded with Termination by Bush."

U.S. News & World Report, June 28, 2004, Samantha Levine, "A Job for Superman," biography of Clark Kent Ervin, p. 20.

Washington Post Book World, May 14, 2006, Lee H. Hamilton, "America the Unprepared," review of Open Target, p. 4.


Aspen Institute Web site, (May 24, 2007).

Clark Kent Ervin Web lot, (May 24, 2007).

Government Community News, (December 10, 2004), Patience Wait, "Clark Kent Ervin Out as DHS IG."

Leigh Bureau Web site, (May 24, 2007), biography of Clark Kent Ervin.

U.S. Department of State Web site, (May 24, 2007), biography of Clark Kent Ervin.