Politics

Intel Chief James Clapper: U.S. Spies Could Exploit Government Shutdown

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The Washington budget impasse could be used by Russia or Iran to recruit American spies, warns Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

During a Senate hearing on Monday, Clapper made added to the already overflowing list of worries about the government shutdown when he suggested spies could be tempted to switch national loyalties now.

“This is a dreamland for foreign intelligence services to recruit,” Clapper said.

NSA Director, Gen. Keith Alexander, said roughly 70 percent of civilians doing intelligence work have been furloughed, including 4,000 scientists and 1,000 mathematicians, according to the New York Daily News.

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While the NSA continues to focus on “the most specific threats against our nation,” Alexander said, the government shut down has had a “huge impact on morale.”

Clapper testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and said the damage from a partial suspension of government services will “seriously” damage national security, according to Fox News.

“The danger here of course is that this will accumulate over time,” he added. “The damage will be insidious. So each day that goes by, the jeopardy increases.”

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, questioned whether Clapper was making things seem worse than they really were. He asked how bad things could be if 70 percent of employees could be characterized as “nonessential” under furlough guidelines.

“I can’t believe that 70 percent of the intelligence community is being furloughed and we’re still being able to meet our national security responsibilities,” Grassley said.

The government shutdown began Monday after Congress could not pass an all-important budget bill by the midnight deadline.

Republicans want to include provisions on the Affordable Health Care Act while Democrats would not budge.

Sources: New york Daily News, Fox News