Intelligence furloughs could have unintended consequences

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I have now worked for U.S. Army Intelligence for more than 42 years. All but five years of that was in counterintelligence.

As trained agents, we learn that all acts of espionage can be traced back to a trigger. Something occurred in the traitor’s life to see espionage as a justifiable course of action. Two of the primary triggers are financial Problems and disaffection.

The recently announced furlough – especially the way it is being enforced in the intelligence community – will set off these triggers for many of its members. Few people can afford to take a 20 percent pay cut, even if it is only for 11 weeks.

FOR SOME IT will be an inconvenience, and they will have to make small changes in their lifestyles for four months, but for some it will certainly create financial hardship. Many people live from paycheck to paycheck with no savings, and all of their income committed even before they are paid. For these people, you will create a lot of financial hardship, and some will certainly go a lot deeper into debt, if not bankruptcy, to weather this hardship.

What is said about financial hardship can also be said about disaffection. All will be disappointed in the actions of their government and see them as avoidable, and will be disappointed in the fact that only selected government-employed civilians had to pay for the president and Congress’ inability to govern. Loyalty is a two-way street, and some employees will see these actions as clearly an act of betrayal of them by their government.

All of these intelligence personnel have security clearances and access to classified information. If you consider that you have just betrayed thousands of these cleared people with access to classified data and equipment; created a financial hardship for them, perhaps even bankruptcy; and then disaffected all of them to some degree or another; you can expect that some will be tempted to seek relief or revenge in ways that most people might consider unthinkable.

IN A COUNTRY that values political correctness over moral correctness, you can expect that there is more than one Edward Snowden out there who would justify betraying his country. Decades ago, even under these circumstances, no one with a clearance would have considered betraying their country, but that climate and loyalty does not exist today.

For me, I will be financially inconvenienced and am surely disappointed in our nation’s and military’s leadership, but would never consider doing anything I have described in this memorandum.

I believe that this shortsighted furloughing of intelligence personnel will create many problems for the U.S. intelligence community, and keep us counterintelligence special agents busy for years.

(The writer is retired from the U.S. Army and is a civilian employee at Fort Gordon.)

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gargoyle
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gargoyle 07/06/13 - 11:56 pm
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In the privet sector I lived

In the privet sector I lived with a 6 month layoff after the crash, after calling back half personnel we were told in a group meeting we would have to do more with less and if there was a problem Burger King was hiring. My wife working for the State Gov. has been furloughed the past three years with pay frozen or cut the last four. Welcome to the club, federal level personnel were late to the party. Most of us have been dealing with less for a while and have adapted to the new normal; ya'll will too.

Young Fred
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Young Fred 07/07/13 - 04:31 am
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Every county must prioritize

Every country must prioritize given certain circumstances. That intelligence gathering is cut, is very telling of the mindset of our current prez.

(insert sarcasm here) I'm so sure that our interest as a nation are better served by giving outreach money to certain urban groups.

The actions of the man speaks louder than words!!!

Jon Lester
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Jon Lester 07/07/13 - 05:00 am
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You don't think our intelligence apparatus is large enough?

Pay cuts should be the least of the worries for those who have forgotten or flagrantly disregarded their oath to defend the Constitution. If you think Snowden's who betrayed the country, then you clearly don't believe in the supremacy of the people over the state.

myfather15
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myfather15 07/07/13 - 05:51 am
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I'm so sick of hearing about

I'm so sick of hearing about these furloughs and this disgusting worm of a President!! Even with the furloughs, they wouldn't have to hurt so bad IF we would choose better places to CUT!!

But this pathetic excuse for a President CHOOSES to cut in places the people will FEEL or SEE it the most!! He wants maximum effect on the people, because of ELECTIONS!! 2014 is already on their mind!!

Riverman1
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Riverman1 07/07/13 - 08:00 am
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Pay Up Or What?

What a misguided person you are, Mr. Orr. Because the government is trying to work with the money it has instead of borrowing more, you feel Americans working in intelligence will be tempted to sell secrets? I, too, have spent my time in the Army and things weren’t always perfect. I’ve also worked for the Army as a civilian. Plus, taxes get my ire today, but I have never once thought of selling secrets. Anyone who does sell secrets is a traitor, plain and simple.

Mr. Orr, about your financial inconvenience, if you can’t handle your personal finances with your retirement income AND your job, you need to take a serious look at your lifestyle, personal responsibility and discipline. Security clearances require such personal financial responsibility.

I’ll tell you this, if I were still in the Army and in charge of your section, you would be finding another job for making this warning in a public forum. You should know better, especially considering the job you have.

deestafford
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deestafford 07/07/13 - 08:36 am
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This whole sequester was obama's idea; therefore, I suggest

you look around and see which ones in the area you work voted for obama. I would like to think that folks working in intelligence would be intelligent enough to not have voted for obama but I know that is not true.

obama also had the option of prioritizing where the cuts would occur by Congress and he refused to accept that responsibility. You see, obama wants nothing to do with decision making on anything that will stick to him. Once again experience only as a community agitator rose to the surface and showed a lack of skills necessary to be a chief executive.

Young Fred
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Young Fred 07/07/13 - 09:06 am
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Our countries "intelligence"

Our countries "intelligence" capabilities are our first and most important line of defense.

If our defense intelligence is used by certain parties for personal, or political gain, then that person/party is guilty of treason.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 07/07/13 - 09:29 am
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Furlough

This furlough system is the coward's way out. A more honorable way to save money is to institute permanent pay cuts and keep the personnel on a 40-hour-per-week work schedule. The furloughs going into effect amount to about a 4% pay cut over a year, but they are trying to scare the public by calling it a 20% pay cut.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 07/07/13 - 09:45 am
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Say whattt!!

I have to agree with RM...this man needs to look for another job.

dichotomy
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dichotomy 07/07/13 - 10:57 am
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Uhh..... I don't believe I

Uhh..... I don't believe I would have said all of that if I were an agent. Of course, I guess you could be right. But if I were a co-worker of yours I would be highly irritated that you suggested the American public should view me with suspicion and watch me like a hawk because of 11 furlough days.

All the more reason we should catch, and quickly try and execute, Mr. Snowden to deter people who would even consider this treasonous rationale. In fact, since he is still threatening more leaks, a terminate with extreme prejudice order should be issued for him.....and Assange too.

I don't agree with the way sequestration has been implemented but the spending cuts had to happen and the president had the option of making it virtually painless, totally unnoticeable, but chose not to do so. Direct your anger at the president, not your country.

Darby
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Darby 07/07/13 - 11:58 am
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While I agree wholeheartedly that the

sequester cuts are a political ploy, the writer is suggesting that loyalty is a commodity to be bought and paid for.

Sure glad that no one told that to the patriots at Lexington, Concord and Valley Forge. Those guys, many, many of them served for a year or more without pay. They complained and griped, yes, but they served!

Don't want people as those described by the writer trusted to work within a light year of my country's security.

carcraft
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carcraft 07/07/13 - 04:44 pm
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Just a reminder to our

Just a reminder to our liberal friends that the Republicans offered to work with Obama for targeted cuts, Obama refused. Sequester didn't seem to stop Obama's $100 million tripe to Africa, forget the poor peasants that pay his salary and foot the bill for the trip, a little pay cut won't hurt them at all!

chascushman
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chascushman 07/07/13 - 02:55 pm
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"Sequester didn't seem to
Unpublished

"Sequester didn't seem to stop Obama's $100 million tripe to Africa, forget the poor peasants that pay salary, a little pay won't hurt them at all!"
carcraft, he just wanted to take his family to what he considers his home land.

vinnydelicious
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vinnydelicious 07/07/13 - 05:53 pm
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Counterintelligence special agent?

Get over yourself James Bond.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 07/07/13 - 09:31 pm
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This is one of the most

This is one of the most disappointing op-ed pieces I've seen in the Chronicle, especially since I (and many other commenters) have been entrusted to hold security clearances.

bernardbarbour
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bernardbarbour 07/07/13 - 10:49 pm
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Seriously Mr Orr?

"Loyalty is a two-way street, and some employees will see these actions as clearly an act of betrayal of them by their government."

If these people working at the NSA are living paycheck to paycheck, and feel they have to betray our government because they are out of work for a few days as you suggest......... this entire opinion is ludicrous!

fedex227
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fedex227 07/08/13 - 11:03 pm
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Kudos to 007 for his service ...

but not all intelligence service related positions were furloughed. The fact that yours was, well, chalk it up to filling wrong position at the worng time- nothing else. It happens.

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