James Clapper Thinks That NSA Employees Will Sell Out Our Nation After A Few Days Without A Paycheck

from the the-NSA-is-everything-you-need-it-to-be...-and-less dept

With the government shutdown entering its second week, there’s been a lot of discussion (and disagreement — mostly disagreement) as to what constitutes an “essential” service. To many in the intelligence field, that question has already been answered — anything related to “national security” remains essential.

According to James Clapper, nearly 70% of the intelligence workforce has been furloughed. The recently-passed Pay Our Military Act should put most of those civilian contractors back to work, but early last week, Clapper was very, very concerned about the damaging effects a layoff could have.

“I’ve been in the intelligence business for about 50 years. I’ve never seen anything like this,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, referring to the government shutdown, told lawmakers Wednesday. “This seriously damages our ability to protect the safety and security of this nation and its citizens. … The damage will be insidious.”

Fifty years, and yet he missed the 21-day shutdown in 1995/96. This mental lapse notwithstanding, we’re talking about a statement made by Clapper all of two days into the shutdown, a count that had been exceeded five times by federal shutdowns since 1981.

Moving on, Clapper expounded on how exactly a shutdown would harm national security. It’s not so much that the massive servers might be powered down temporarily or that it might not be able to write checks to telcos and tech companies for backdoor rentals. No, the real problem is that a single missed paycheck is all that stands between any NSA contractor and complete subversion by foreign agencies.

Then Clapper made this dire warning: “This is a dreamland for foreign intelligence services to recruit, particularly as employees — already many of whom are subject to furloughs driven by sequestration — are going to have … even greater financial challenges.”

According to Clapper, our national security is reliant on uninterrupted payments to a mercenary group of extortionate contractors. A few missed paychecks is a risk this country simply can’t take, not if we’re going to stay ahead of the terrorists.

This sort of statement from Clapper has to do wonders for troop morale. “Hey, guys! The boss says we’re all just opportunistic jerks with no loyalty and the willingness to sell out an entire nation if Uncle Sam doesn’t keep topping off the bank account.”

This paints a very different picture of the average intelligence analyst than the comparatively glowing portrait former NSA director Michael Hayden whipped up for a CNN interviewer while dodging the “ability” question.

“What I’m saying is don’t just trust the NSA. We have a workforce there that has the same values the rest of the American population has.”

According to Clapper, the American population values a continued paycheck more than it values loyalty and would gladly sell out its employer (and nation) rather than consider other options like short-term unemployment, job hunting or cutting expenses. If that’s how Clapper views the civilians the NSA employees, the biggest surprise is that, so far, only Snowden has skipped town with a few hard drives’ worth of documents.

Hayden, on the other hand, seems to feel NSA analysts are just Americans with bigger, faster computers and a frighteningly in-depth search engine. They’re people just like us, who would never, ever consider exceeding their “authorization,” no matter what amazing “abilities” the system provides.

But these are both just the same argument, which is: “Don’t touch the NSA.” The NSA’s analysts aren’t either of the reductionist extremes deployed above, but that’s hardly conducive to fending off attacks on their beloved agency. The rhetorical analysts are simply there to be repurposed as needed.

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Comments on “James Clapper Thinks That NSA Employees Will Sell Out Our Nation After A Few Days Without A Paycheck”

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Anonymous Coward says:

government shutdown, or government takeover?

I’m starting to get this eerie feeling that, given all the things we’ve learned this year, the government shutdown might be a way to hide some planned nefarious activities.

With fewer people “at the helm”, who knows what others are up to currently. When the military is the only ones getting funded, doesn’t that frighten you?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Agreed. While it is possible that some people might sell out the US government, given that the US government has long since stopped looking out for, or done more than feign interest in, the actual welfare of the nation or its people as a whole, I see little of interest here.

Given Congress gets paid almost $200K for working part time (179 days, give or take, is not full time employment), and can’t even do that effectively anymore, I’d vote to disband Congress and just close down the federal government. Let the states take care of themselves.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

As tempting as that may sound, a central government is still necessary. It just needs to take a huge 2×4 to the kneecap is all.

Central only needs to perform these functions.
Manage the Military (Defend National interests & assets).
Foreign Relations (Speaks for itself).
Police all States for abuse of the Constitution.
Manage Interstate commerce to prevent things like monopolies but not try to direct them.

The Rest goes to the States!

Anonymous Coward says:

So, basically, we put ourselves into this mess. If we hadn’t hired so many useless intelligence employees we wouldn’t have to worry about the mess they might put us in if we can no longer afford to pay them. Our safety depends on their paycheck because they might sell out if we stop paying them but if we hadn’t hired them to begin with they would

A: Have other jobs

B: Not be in a position to sell us out and so no one would be interested in them.

By hiring so many useless employees who can sell us out at a whim (and probably already have sold us out so many times behind closed doors by giving information to foreigners in secret) we are actually making ourselves less secure and we are increasing the probability of being sold and the number of times we are sold out. We are also reducing the amount of money foreigners have to pay to obtain wanted information because now there is more competition (more people in a position to access such information).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Not to mention what about disgruntled and unstable employees who were let go. The more they hire the greater the probability of having a disgruntled/unstable employee that would be let go because of his behavior and that employee might very well sell us out for money or to retaliate (or both) if he perceives something isn’t fair or whatever.

The fact is the intelligence community is composed of people subject to politics as much as any other organization. So when you have more people you have more politics which makes us more vulnerable.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

(and keeping an employee because he might sell us out doesn’t sound really reassuring either. If intelligence employees are untrustworthy if let go then how could we trust them enough to keep them? Are we really hiring a bunch of untrustworthy intelligence employees? How secure is that supposed to make me feel?).

Call me Al says:

His real fear is showing how unnecessary they are

I expect his real fear in this situation is that with 70% of Intelligence workers on furlough you’d expect there to be some clear and present danger to the US and the world.

If it then turns out that in this period there is no real difference to any other period then perhaps someone might look and wonder whether they really need that 70%.

Anonymous Coward says:

Clapper is RIGHT!

They work for a part of the government that has already sold out the average American Citizen (Except those like Snowden)… So yea, they have already started down that slippery slope having taken the job and seeing what they see, yet remaining there.

For once Clapper is actually making some logical sense, and yes I am serious!

Keep your friends close but your enemies closer! Yes, the American Citizens is the enemy!

“In time of actual war, great discretionary powers are constantly given to the Executive Magistrate. Constant apprehension of War, has the same tendency to render the head too large for the body. A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.”

~James Madison (or so believed to be)

Anonymoose Custard (profile) says:

So he's saying they're incompetent?

If the analysts they hire are really so lacking in integrity that a few weeks without pay will make them turncoat traitors, why were they hired in the first place? Why didn’t their high-security background check flag them as potential turncoats?

Oh, right, this is the NSA we’re talking about. They’re traitors to begin with.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: So he's saying they're incompetent?

I’m always amazed by the readiness of politicians, executives, and other high-level functionaries of various organizations to plead incompetence as an excuse for just about anything.

And I’m equally disappointed at the lack of readiness for the public at large to call them out on it.

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