October 2, 2013
Shut down and sequestration grandstanding was at an all-time high as the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, went before the Senate on Wednesday.
Clapper said a double whammy of a government shut down and sequestration budget cuts “seriously damages” the ability of government to protect its citizens.
“This is not just a Beltway issue. This affects our global capability to support the military, to support diplomacy, to support our policymakers,” Clapper told the Senate Judiciary Committee as it held court on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a repeatedly amended 1978 law providing a paper excuse for the government to surveil the American people. “The danger here, of course, [is] that this will accumulate over time. The damage will be insidious, so each day that goes by the jeopardy increases.”
“The risk is 75 percent more than it was yesterday,” he warned.
Clapper said he has worked to keep some employees on as the political dog and pony show rolls through Washington. He said a skeleton crew is guarding against “imminent threats to life or property,” but more furloughed employees will be called back if the shut down continues.
Clapper also said the financial crisis now chipping away at America and its once unparalleled standard of living is posing difficult challenges for government bureaucrats.
“This is a dreamland for a foreign intelligence service to recruit, particularly as our employees — already many of whom [are] subject to furloughs driven by sequestration — are going to have, I believe, even greater financial challenges. So we’re spending our time setting up counseling services for employees to help them manage their finances,” he said, directing his lamentation at efforts to control government spending and address an astronomical debt that poses a risk far more serious to average Americans than a handful of Muslims in caves or roaming around the African Sahara imposing sharia law on impoverished dirt farmers.
NSA boss Gen. Keith Alexander was a bit more sanguine. He told the Senate Committee that despite the shut down and massive furlough, the surveillance agency has kept employees working on “the most significant counterterrorism and other threats that we see into the support to our military forces in Afghanistan and overseas,” primarily because a large percentage of the work is contracted out to the private sector. He said, however, that the idea that the budget should be cut has had a detrimental impact on the morale of NSA bureaucrats.
Republican Ted Cruz, who is spearheading an effort to defund Obamacare, said the government must continue to protect us from bad guys in far away lands. “I don’t think President Obama should be playing politics with this. He should be stepping forward to address this problem right now,” Cruz said. “The intelligence community needs to be funded” despite its excesses and constitutional violations.