Top US spy official says shutdown breeds moles

Top US spy official says shutdown breeds moles
Thu Oct 3, 2013 19:49:42

Director of US National Intelligence James Clapper and Chief of Staff of US Army Ray Odierno have both denounced the potential consequences of American government shutdown, describing the unpaid leave of federal workers a recruitment “dreamland” for foreign spy agencies.

"This is a dreamland for foreign intelligence services to recruit, particularly as our employees, already many of whom subject to furloughs driven by sequestration, are going to have, I believe, even greater financial challenges,” Clapper said, speaking before a Wednesday Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to discuss surveillance powers of the largest US spy organization, the National Security Agency (NSA), RT reported.

"I've never seen anything like this. In my view I think this, on top of the sequestration cuts, seriously damages the safety and security of the nation," the top intelligence official added.

This is while US authorities say that about 70 percent of all intelligence personnel have been forced to take unpaid leave, including 4,000 computer specialists.

“This affects our global capability to support the military, to support diplomacy, and to support our policymakers. And the danger here, of course, that this will accumulate over time -- the damage will be insidious. So each day that goes by, the jeopardy increases," Clapper further noted during his testimony before the committee members.

The senior intelligence authority also stated that US spy agencies are setting up financial counseling for staff at a time of unusual vulnerability, according to the report.

Meanwhile, General Ray Odierno has pointed out that the first US government shutdown since 1996, "impacts significantly day-to-day operations" of the nation’s army.

"The longer it goes on, the worse it gets. Every day that goes by, we are losing manpower, we are losing capability,” said the general as cited in press reports in Germany.

The army is currently furloughing “non-essential” personnel – particularly those not involved in live operations abroad.

The shutdown, which has forced 800,000 government employees to stay at home, began on Tuesday, after Congress failed to agree next year’s budget. The central bone of contention has been the funding of Obamacare, a scheme to widen health insurance coverage in the US.

Senator Ted Cruz, one of the most critical opponents of the Obamacare, has said that Congress should pass a special amendment that will exempt the army and security services from the shutdown.
"If God forbid, we see an attack on the United States because the intelligence community has not been adequately funded, every member of this committee would be horrified," said Cruz in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Attempts in the past two days to push through various piecemeal mitigations of the shutdown have failed to garner enough votes.

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