I've known Howard for more than a decade. He started out as a local cop who had a hobby working with computers. He was a pioneer in forensic analysis of computer evidence, and was instrumental in establishing the Air Force's information security capability which was arguably the biggest influence on the evolution of today's DoD capability. He started out doing hands on low level hardware and software analysis. He was a hacker in the true sense of the word. I visited his home, and there were always multiple machines strewn about, which he had built himself.
While I doubt he's done much hands-on work in a long time, he understands the issues and problems as they relate to computer crime and network security. He knows everyone worth knowing in the law-enforcement side of security, since most of them worked for him or with him at some point in his career. He also has worked as the security chief for such companies as Microsoft and Ebay and has all the contacts on the commercial side as well.
I have met and gotten to know numerous "security professionals" over the years in classes, conventions, forums, courtrooms, and bars. I haven't met anyone else with Howard's mix of legitimate hands-on experience and political contacts (political as in knowing the right people not political as in democrat and republican). While I don't know who else they were looking at, I'm positive they could have done much worse than Howard.