Seemingly lost in the circus surrounding the partial government shutdown, now into the early days of its second month, has been its impact on national security.
Trump, while holding out for his $5.7 billion border blinders, has halted the day-to-day operations of the agencies and individuals that protect American lives and interests beyond the proposed site of his steel-slatted blunder. As Trump tweets support for racist teenage genetic flotsam, air traffic controllers, customs workers, Coast Guard units and federal maritime operations have either ceased or been slowed to a crawl.
If President Pimento won’t listen to 800,000 furloughed federal employees, common sense, his base, or national polling data, maybe he’ll listen to these voices.
In a 72-page report entitled “Voices from the Field,” dozens of firsthand accounts lay out the myriad ways in which Trump’s shutdown has hampered the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The FBI, with 13,000 special agents and nearly 35,000 employees, has seen its workforce go without one paycheck, with another missed payday coming this Friday. Still, beyond their inability to make ends meet at home, agents are hampered by their growing inability to investigate terror suspects, drug trafficking operations, child sexual predators and countless other nefarious doings at home and abroad.
“One overriding fact is clear when you listen to FBI agents,” the report says. “Financial security is national security.”
To make matters worse, the agency may soon see its steady flow of information from informants and drug busts slow to a drip, as the shutdown has also left them unable to purchase illegal narcotics and pay its moles.
“We are in the middle of a critical OCDETF investigation targeting kilo-quantity trafficking of methamphetamine and heroin by street gang members,” said one agent quoted in the report who learned of the FBI’s lack of spending power during the midst of interstate investigation. “Without money to pay sources and conduct controlled narcotics purchases, our task force is unable to continue these critical investigations.”
“Not being able to pay confidential human sources risks losing them and the information they provide forever,” another agent from the central region said in the report. “It is not a switch that we can turn on and off.”
For its part, the agency, along with the National Executive Board of the FBI Agents Association circulated a petition urging congressional leaders for funding.
Earlier today, FBI Agents Association president Thomas O’Connor laid the situation bare during a news conference.
“It is truly sad that we must resort to this because we are being let down by our elected officials,” he said.
Still, with a weakened intelligence arm, a country losing faith in its top leadership by the minute, and no end in sight, we know at least one person likely to be pleased with the FBI’s weakened state: Vladimir Putin.
At least Trump’s got his priorities in order.