The Shutdown and the NSA
A closer look at how the shut down affects the functioning of the NSA. I guess you could call it the Goof the Bad and the Ugly because an impaired agency means reduced domestic spying but it also has a negative impact on active duty military in Afghanistan as support for things like supplying weapons and ammunition is no longer functioning. Here is a list from Juan Cole’s article:
1. Some 70% of NSA staff have been sent home as a result of the Republican Party shutdown of the Federal government. Despite its straying into US territory and its possible industrial espionage abroad, the NSA does actually track terrorists, and we would like it to do that well; that ability has doubtless been degraded by Cruz’s grandstanding.
2. Likewise 70% of the CIA has been sent home, at a time when al-Qaeda is reviving. Perhaps the Defense Intelligence Agency is in a bit better shape, since it has more military personnel, who are exempt from being furloughed.
3. 4000 computer specialists working for US intelligence have been furloughed.
4. Some 400,000 civilian support staff at the Department of Defensehave been sent home without pay.
5. Among those sent home are the officials who sign arms contracts and buy weapons. You hope our troops in Afghanistan are well stocked; how exactly new weapons and ammunition can be bought and trucked up from Karachi to the Khyber Pass is not clear.
6. The 1.4 million active duty military personnel will likely see paychecks delayed, with negative effects on morale. David Small writes : “The Marine corporal deployed to Afghanistan, making $2,193.90 a month, is worried about his family back home. His kids rely on food stamps, but that program was cut during shutdown. He will try to maintain focus in a combat zone. But he will be distracted and uncertain.”
7. Likewise, military special pay and bonuses, re-up bonuses, rewards for accepting positions in which there are special needs have all been put on hold, along with promotions. Again, a severe impact on morale.
9. The State Department, whose cables were released by Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange and Wikileaks, has weathered a few embarrassing cables. But now it will face increasingly difficulties in doing its job of representing the US abroad. Embassies will stay open for a while since some funding is multi-year. But some sort of disruption is likely if the shutdown continues very long.
10. Some security has to do with biological threats; WJLA notes: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is be severely limited in spotting or investigating disease outbreaks such as the flu or that mysterious MERS virus from the Middle East.”