According to an unnamed government official speaking with The Hill, shutting down the U.S. government wouldn’t lead to the National Security Agency (NSA) halting its controversial, and broad surveillance efforts.
The United States may shut down in short order, due to political intransigence between the two chambers of Congress. Republicans want to defund the Affordable Care Act, while Senate Democrats and the president do not. It isn’t clear if there is a path forward that avoids a shutdown. Following that deadline, the United States must raise its debt ceiling to continue operations without defaulting. If you aren’t watching the politics, it’s time to catch up.
However, even if we shutter huge tracts of the federal enterprise, the NSA’s wheels will continue to churn along. Various federal agencies are openly discussing how they will operate if the government does shut down. The NSA, an infamously reticent organization, likely won’t make public comments. However, well-placed tips lead to public understanding without the need to release specifics.
Leaked documents by Edward Snowden recently detailed the financial cost of the NSA and other intelligence efforts. The CIA is the most expensive chunk of the U.S. “black budget,” costing $14.7 billion. The NSA costs $10.8 billion, by contrast. Prices decline from there, for a total of $52.6 billion each year.
It is not likely that the programs listed above will be subject to budget cuts. In fact, their budgets have grown quickly in the last decade. Let’s be frank: If a full government shutdown won’t slow the NSA, not much else can.
Something to think about.
Top Image Credit: Zoe Rudisill