FBI Agent Association: The Shutdown Has Morphed Into A National Security Crisis

Federal Bureau of Investigation/Public Domain

Sex trafficking, drug and gang crime, and even counter-terrorism efforts are being stymied by the government shutdown.

As the government shutdown lingers on past the one month mark, FBI agents are increasingly concerned that serious detriment to national security will result from lack of funding — a situation that currently appears unlikely to end soon.

The FBI Agents Association released a report this month detailing the ways in which the shutdown is affecting the work and livelihood of the nation’s top law enforcement agents.

Operations taking a hit from the federal stalemate include:

  • Crimes Against Children and Sex Trafficking
  • Drug and Gang Crime
  • Counter-Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism
  • Cybersecurity Healthcare and Securities Fraud
  • State and Local Work
  • Subpoenas

Also impacted by the shutdown are the recruitment and retention of agents; training, travel and supplies; and agents’ financial security

One overriding fact is clear when you listen to FBI Agents: Financial security is national security.

For Agents and the FBIAA, the fight for funding is not political. It is a matter of completing our mission and protecting the Constitution and the people of our nation. Agents will continue working to thwart all plots and investigate all incidents, whether child trafficking and exploitation, cyber intrusion, or terrorist attack.

The FBIAA publication “Voices in the Field” contains stories from FBI special agents across the U.S., which detail the ways in which the shutdown is impairing their work — and that impairment could eventually become dire.

One special agent in the southeast region reported: “On the child exploitation side, as an [undercover employee], I have had to put pervs on standby.… This just puts children in jeopardy.”

Another agent, who works in the central region, said his or her cases “are primarily violent homicides and crimes against children, with child sexual assaults likely being 70-80% of the case load”, but investigations have been stalled, including “delayed forensic interviews of child victims and delaying grand jury indictments on homicides and child sexual assault prosecutions.”

Others working on drug and gang crime operations reported being unable to pursue drug traffickers: “Without money to pay sources and conduct controlled narcotics purchases, our task force is unable to continue these critical investigations.”

Even counterterrorism efforts are affected by the shutdown.

A Critical Incident Response Group agent said “training for specific critical response missions has been postponed or cancelled for January and continues to be cancelled as weeks continue to progress without funding.”

The agent added: “This training…is necessary to maintain our readiness posture to deal with all levels of pre-blast weapons of mass destruction.… This negatively impacts our ability to do our job and protect the American public.”

The lack of funding is also impairing agents’ abilities to glean real-time, sensitive intelligence from the agency’s sources:

“The Bureau is unable to fulfill confidential service or expense payments to our national security Confidential Human Sources that provide real-time perishable information for the Intelligence Community and our senior policy makers, Cabinet level officials, Presidential advisors, and the Office of the President.”

All of these stories, of which there are countless more, are intended to illustrate to President Donald Trump, Congress, and the American people just how imperative it is that the shutdown come to an immediate end.

FBIAA is releasing Voices from the Field to ensure that Congress, the Administration, and the public are aware of the real and daily challenges faced by FBI Agents and the risks to national security posed by a prolonged shutdown.

These stories illustrate how the government shutdown affects our work and identifies the risks that may emerge as it continues. FBI Agents Association (FBIAA) members provided these reports on a voluntary and confidential basis.

View the full report.