Official Warns Shutdown Could Make Spies Double Agents

Fears that unpaid intelligence agents could be flipped

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J. Scott Applewhite / AP

This April 18, 2013 file photo shows National Intelligence Director James Clapper testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington.

An ongoing government shutdown heightens the risk that American intelligence officers could be flipped as double agents, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Wednesday.

“Each day that goes by the jeopardy increases,” Clapper said while testifying at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. “This is a dream land for foreign intelligence services to recruit. Particularly as our employees, many of whom are already subject to furloughs… are going to have, I believe, even greater financial challenges.”

President Barack Obama and congressional leaders are meeting Wednesday evening at the White House to negotiate a way out of the shutdown, now in its second day. Hundreds of thousands of government employees are being furloughed or going without pay.

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