From The Post’s Ellen Nakashima:
At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday morning on the government’s surveillance programs, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. criticized the shutdown and the furloughing of many federal workers.
Clapper said that by using the legal standard of “that which is necessary to protect against imminent threat — imminent threat — to life or property,” roughly 70 percent of employees were furloughed. He added that if the shutdown continues, the intelligence community would make adjustments, “depending on what we see as the potential imminent threats to life or property.”
Clapper also said that in the 50 years that he has been in the intelligence business, he had “never seen anything like this.”
“From my view, I think this — on top of the sequestration cuts that we’re already taking, that this seriously damages our ability to protect the safety and security of this nation and as citizens,” he said. “This affects our ability — this is not just a Beltway issue; 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 said.
Clapper also said that counseling services are being set up for employees to help them manage their finances, as they face challenges related to the furloughs.
The National Security Agency’s director, Gen. Keith Alexander, echoed Clapper’s comments about employee hardship.
“We have an amazing workforce,” Alexander said about NSA employees. “When I look at what our folks are capable of doing, we have over 960 PhDs, over 4,000 computer scientists, over a thousand mathematicians. They are furloughed. Our nation needs people like this. And the way we treat them is to tell them, you need to go home because we can’t afford to pay you; we can’t — we can’t make a deal here.
“From my perspective, it has had a huge impact on morale.”