Oct 03 2013

It’s a ‘good’ thing.

70% of intelligence staff out in government shutdown

Al Jazeera

October 2, 2013 12:04PM ET

Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that roughly 70 percent of the intelligence workforce – including staff from the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency – have been furloughed.

“I’ve been in the intelligence business for about 50 years. I’ve never seen anything like this,” Clapper said at the hearing on the controversial spy programs.

“I think this, on top of sequestration, seriously damages our ability to protect the security and safety of this nation and its citizens,” Clapper said.

He added that the agencies risk losing valuable staff, especially after layoffs forced by the so-called “sequestration” budget cuts that went into effect earlier this year.

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Clapper said the law only allows civilian workers to be kept at work if their work addresses “an imminent threat to life or property.”

“Our applying that standard is what results across the board in furloughing roughly 70%,” he said. “I think that will change if this drags on.”

The ranking Republican on the panel, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, said he was puzzled by reports that 72% of intelligence agency civilian workers have been furloughed as non-essential.

“The intelligence community either needs better lawyers who can make big changes to the workforce or are you over-employing in those areas?” he asked.  “It can’t be that 70% of the intelligence community is being furloughed and we’re still able to meet our national security responsibilities.”