By Eric Boehm | Watchdog.org
Unless Congress can agree on a new budget, the federal government will shut down midnight Monday.
But that’s unlikely to stop the massive spy machine at the National Security Agency.
The possible government shutdown would affect bureaucrats, park rangers and countless other government employees and contractors across the country. Even three-quarters of the White House staff would be sent home.
But “essential personnel” and services would stay online – including the NSA’s surveillance operations.
“A shutdown would be unlikely to affect core NSA operations,” a government official familiar with the plans told The Hill on Thursday.
On Friday, the Defense Department released its plans for dealing with a potential shutdown. In a memo, intelligence and surveillance programs were listed as essential duties of the department not be affected by a shutdown.
The essential duties of the Defense Department – including recruitment, operations of mortuary facilities for fallen service members and medical care for veterans – would carry on. Most directly relate to the military and its role in preserving national security, but the spies seem to get the same exception.
In all, about half of the Defense Department’s 800,000 civilian employees would be furloughed in the event of a shutdown, the New York Times reported. All military personal would remain on duty.
After all, if they’re not tracking your phone calls and reading your emails, who would?
The NSA costs taxpayers about $10 billion annually, according to the so-called “black budget” leaked earlier this year by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Boehm is a reporter for Watchdog.org and can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @EricBoehm87
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