NPR : News

Officials Detail Shutdown's Chilling Effect On National Security

James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, told Congress this week that the partial federal government shutdown has forced the furlough of some 70 percent of employees throughout the intelligence community.

"I've never seen anything like this," said Clapper, a 50-year veteran of intelligence work.

So what impact is all this having on the spy world?

A senior U.S. official tells NPR that because of the shutdown, some intelligence agencies are focusing only on the biggest threats: counterterrorism and nuclear nonproliferation. So some other issues, such as detecting and defending against cyberattacks and keeping an eye on ballistic missile launches around the world, are falling by the wayside. They just don't have the personnel to keep track of everything.

There has been no spike in cyber attacks, the senior official said, but there's a worry that this could happen should hackers or adversaries such as Iran try to test the system. As far as ballistic missile launches, the spy agencies want to keep track of the missiles — and what they can learn about any new developments — in places like Syria to North Korea.

Moreover, with North Korea, the U.S. Command in the region is keeping a close eye on things. But the senior official said that since the shutdown, Washington, D.C-based intelligence agencies are unable to process some of the intelligence coming from North Korea.

Another consequence if the shutdown continues? The intelligence community won't have the manpower to be able to turn raw intelligence into reports for Capitol Hill and the White House.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Exploring The Secret History Of The Cubicle

NPR's Rachel Martin speaks with Nikil Saval about his new book Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace. It's a look at how the white-collar world came to be the way it is, and what it might become.
NPR

Restaurants Put Everything From Soup to Nuts Over The Fire

It is not only smoked meat that's in all the hottest restaurants. It's actually anything edible that is being smoked.
NPR

Obama Adds Malaysia To His Asia Itinerary

Obama travels to Malaysia next week, where the government is under fire for the handling of a missing airliner. NPR's Wade Goodwyn talks to Joshua Kurlantzick of the Council on Foreign Relations.
NPR

Watch For The Blind Lets You Feel Time Passing

A new watch allows the blind to feel time on their wrists. Designer Hyungsoo Kim tells NPR's Wade Goodwyn his watch allows users to tell time accurately without revealing their disabilities.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.