In the wake of the current government shutdown, one of the most pressing concerns of the public is whether the shutdown will have any effect on national security. Put simply, at this point, we have no way of truly knowing what the effects of the lapse in federal funding will truly be.
Interestingly, even those charged with running the government seem unable to agree on the ramifications of the shutdown, and have failed to deliver a uniform message to the public during public appearances yesterday.
On Tuesday morning, the Department of Defense released a statement from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, assuring the public “We’re going to be able to fulfill our mission of keeping this country…secure.” The same day, however, in response to the question “Does America remain safe even with a shutdown?”, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper responded “I don’t feel that I can make such a guarantee to the American people.” Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) clarified his sentiments when she asked Clapper “You clearly see it as a risk to national security?”, to which he simply responded “Absolutely.”
While the government has clearly failed to present a uniformed view on how the shutdown will influence national security, policy analysts tend to agree with Clapper. What they disagree on, however, is whether we will see immediate effects on national security, or the effects will manifest themselves long-term. At this point, just one day into the government shutdown, any analysis of the effects of the government shutdown on our country’s security is merely speculation and conjecture. It is impossible to predict the effects of the shutdown on national security, both long and short-term, as we live in a vastly different world from the last time a government shutdown occurred 17 years ago.
What is more disconcerting than the uncertainty that comes with this shutdown, however, is the clear inability of government officials to create a uniform message to the public, as displayed by yesterday’s statements from Clapper and Hagel.
Kelly Ann Taddonio, Senior Research Fellow
Center for Policy & Research