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.