It looks like the partial shutdown will come to a close in a few hours, but this story from McClatchy is stunning. That the Obama White House and its Statist deputies have been hell-bent on making things as "difficult as possible" for average people in the hopes of gaining a political advantage is not news. They barricaded open-air war memorials and a 9/11 remembrance site for goodness sake. They refused to agree to piecemeal bills that would have restored funding to things like pediatric cancer treatments at NIH. Their conduct was dishonorable and cynical. We now know that was also dangerous. While they were plotting their pain-infliction strategy, administration officials recklessly decided to furlough thousands of America's...intelligence analysts, charged with keeping the country safe. Under pressure, they've admitted that it was a mistake that endangered national security. McClatchy's headline is pretty bruising: "Shutdown Misstep - How Obama administration plan put country at risk." Details:
It may be one of the most serious missteps of the federal government shutdown. After weeks of planning, the nation’s spy chief sent home nearly three-quarters of the workers at the government’s intelligence agencies when faced with the partial shutdown. The move, James Clapper later admitted himself, put the United States at greater risk of terrorist attacks. He then reversed course and brought thousands of employees back to work. A review by McClatchy finds that lawmakers, former intelligence officials and national security experts say they were shocked that the administration furloughed the bulk of federal workers at 16 intelligence agencies, many of them tasked with the most important job in the government: safeguarding lives. “It’s difficult for me to understand,” said Leon Panetta, who served as the director of the CIA and the secretary of defense under President Barack Obama. “People that are involved in our intelligence are critical. You can’t possibly put 70 percent on furlough and not harm national security.”
This move is rich with irony, given the White House's use of terrorism imagery in describing Republican budget tactics. Panetta has reported directly to Obama in two key positions, yet he hasn't been shy about criticizing his boss over the various Beltway crises. In a meeting with reporters several days ago, Panetta dinged the president for being disengaged and unwilling to deal with the GOP in Congress. Hilariously, the reporters argued back, defending Obama's poor leadership and intransigence. America's journalists, hard at work:
The reporters in the room seemed more forgiving of the circumstances in which the president finds himself. Jackie Calmes of the New York Times noted that the Panetta-envisioned budget deal was illusory because Republicans refuse to consider new tax revenue. Doyle McManus of the Los Angeles Times observed that the White House would argue that its previous efforts at schmoozing and deal-making had fizzled. “Just because you’ve engaged in some set of negotiations and they haven’t gone anywhere, for one reason or another there’s been a breakdown, is no reason to walk away from the table,” Panetta said. “In this town, you’ve got to stay with it. You’ve got to stay at it.”
A former member of Obama's own cabinet (!) is more objective about this president than much of the allegedly "adversarial" press. That said, kudos to McClatchy for following this furlough story. Americans' lives were, for a time, imperiled for absolutely no reason -- except as part of a crass political strategy. Thank God nothing came of it, at least that we know of. Alas, Democrats' shameful crisis strategy has been rewarded with near-total political victory. Which has been their goal all along.