WASHINGTON — Confidential human sources from counter-terror investigations are in danger of being lost forever. Victims of sex trafficking are left without the counseling they deserve. Sub-par FBI applicants could become a new reality.
Those are the stakes outlined by the FBI Agents Association (FBIAA) Tuesday, when the group representing 13,000 special agents released a devastating report outlining the consequences of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
“The shutdown is making it more difficult to perform our jobs of keeping the country safe from criminals and terrorists, said FBIAA President Tom O’Connor in a news conference Tuesday.
“The FBI family comes together in times of crisis. It is truly sad it has come to this because our elected officials are letting us down.”
A month into the partial shutdown, not a singe FBI agent is receiving a paycheck from the federal government.
No new funds are available to replenish FBI coffers. According to a multitude of agents quoted in the 72-page report, the shutdown is directly responsible for hardships in the field, and is hindering the pursuit of new criminal cases.
“The U.S. attorney's office is unable to issue grand jury subpoenas for financial institutions,” reads a passage within the report.
“I have been advised by our U.S. attorney's office that because of the shutdown there are no funds allocated to pay for grand jury subpoenas... This is causing affected investigations to be put on hold.”
The report refrained from quoting any agent by name, in order to prevent retribution from the public or the Bureau. Only agents’ operational geography is loosely defined.
“I’ve been working an MS-13 investigation for three years, and since the shutdown, I haven’t had a Spanish speaking person in the division,” an agent on the West Coast told the FBIAA.
“I’ve heard from some of the younger employees that if this shutdown lingers, we will find work elsewhere,” an agent in the Northeast added.
The latest class at Quantico hasn't received a paycheck, a blow to morale that could endanger future recruitment.
“I know that we’re going to lose people as this goes forward, because you can’t sit in Quantico, and leave your spouse and kids at home with no money coming in to the family," O'Connor said.
"So for our special agents, financial security is national security."