By Alex Zank
The consequences of the government shutdown, now in its second day, are becoming increasingly more dire, James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, told the Senate Judiciary Committee at an oversight hearing today.
"On top of the sequestration cuts, this seriously damages our ability to protect the safety and security of citizens," Clapper said. He added: "This is not just a beltway issue." The shutdown, he said, will affect the intelligence community's effectiveness internationally.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the top Republican on the judiciary committee, expressed concern to Clapper and Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, about the high number of government workers in the intelligence community (70 percent) who are not on the job now because of the shutdown. Grassley suggested that there are too many government employees working on tasks that are not essential to the protection of the national security.
Clapper said his intelligence office made tough decisions on which employees to keep on the job during the shutdown. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, he said, kept staff “essential to protect against imminent threat,” as required by shutdown protocol.