NSA Hiring Civil Liberties Watchdog

Whether or not the in-house overseer would be furloughed in a shutdown is not yet known

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Associated Press

This June 6, 213 file photo shows the sign outside the National Security Agency (NSA) campus in Fort Meade, Md.

Times are tough for the US intelligence services these days, what with 70 percent of the intel workforce reportedly on indefinite furlough amid the government shutdown. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is so concerned about the situation he warned at a Senate hearing Wednesday morning the shutdown could drive intelligence personnel to treason.

And that’s on top of the ongoing scandal around revelations that the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance activity may have gone a little too far. On a few occasions. In recent memory.

Perhaps in response to the barrage of criticism it has received over alleged abuses and misuses of its domestic spying apparatus, the NSA has announced the creation of a new position, the “Civil Liberties & Privacy Officer,” a “completely new role” in which the officer will “serve as the primary adviser to the Director of NSA for ensuring that privacy is protected and civil liberties are maintained” in the course of NSA activities.

Seems it could be a pretty important role, considering the NSA’s recent past, but is it “essential”? In a government shutdown does the privacy-officer to be get the boot with the rest of them?

“We can’t predict how that would be handled,” a government official with knowledge of the new position told TIME. “NSA’s director of compliance is essential.  That’s a good indication.”

We’ll see….