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US Spy Chiefs: The Government Shutdown Is Threatening National Security

clapper alexander

AP/Evan Vucci

National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander, right, looks on as National Intelligence Director James Clapper.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander told a Senate hearing that the ongoing government shutdown is compromising U.S. national security, Siobhan Gorman of The Wall Street Journal reports.

More than 70% of civilian employees of America's 17 intelligence agencies have been furloughed under federal guidelines.

“I’ve been in the intelligence business for about 50 years. I’d never seen anything like this,” Clapper said. “This seriously damages our ability to protect the safety and security of this nation and its citizens.”

Gen. Alexander said: “We have over 960 Ph.D.s, over 4,000 computer scientists, over a thousand mathematicians. They are furloughed. Our nation needs people like this.”

Here's former NSA analyst John Schindler's interpretation: "Short version of GEN Alexander: It's hard to do codebreaking without, you know, codebreakers."

Gorman notes that Democrats on the  Senate Judiciary Committee said the comments indicated the need for Republicans to end the shutdown by passing a spending bill without demands while Republicans argued that it showed why Obama needs to negotiate with their demands.

"The damage will be insidious. So each day that goes by, the jeopardy increases,” Clapper said, adding that he will ask the White House to  broaden exemptions from the shutdown for intelligence personnel.  

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