FBI agents offer shocking warnings about the government shutdown’s effect on US safety

Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images
  • The FBI Agents Association, which represents almost all active FBI agents, is calling for an end of the partial government shutdown, saying the current lapse in funds is unsustainable and could compromise national security.
  • Like 800,000 other federal employees, FBI agents are missing their paychecks thanks to the shutdown.
  • FBI agents anonymously aired their shutdown-induced grievances in a Tuesday report published by the Agents Association. One FBI agent said “the shutdown has eliminated any ability to operate … the fear is our enemies know they can run freely.”
  • One agent investigating MS-13 said since the shutdown began there have been no Spanish speakers working in their division, meaning they haven’t been able to properly communicate with several of their Spanish-speaking informants.

The government shutdown is now on day 32, and FBI agents want it to be over.

In a report released Tuesday by the FBI Agents Association, FBI agents across the country shared stories describing the effect the shutdown is having on their work: investigations have stalled, forensic interviews are delayed, indictments on violent crimes are not happening.

“The impact is we aren’t able to take cases to grand jury to seek indictments/warrants in order to get our most violent offenders arrested and justice for our victims,” said one agent.

The report comes days after the FBIAA called for an end to the shutdown, saying it was unsustainable and could potentially compromise national security.

Tt he association, which represents most active duty FBI agents in the country, released a statement on January 10t urging Congress to fund the Department of Justice. Gaps in funding for the department means some agents might get disqualified from service due to delays in securing security clearances, as well as working without pay and the right resources to continue missions.

The statement also pointed out that many FBI agents are highly qualified professionals who face a variety of employment options in the private sector. The shutdown, the FBIAA said, could lead to an exodus of FBI agents.

In the most recent FBIAA report, FBI agents said they worried about the danger the shutdown poses not only for national security but for all Americans. Victims of domestic minor sex trafficking cases, for example, are not receiving the attention or counseling they need. Investigations across state lines aren’t being completed, testimony isn’t being collected and criminal trials aren’t moving forward, an agent said.

Another agent, who said they are currently investigating a “particularly violent street gang,” said they were forced to tell their local law enforcement partners that they cannot assist in funding their operations because of the shutdown.

“This means that the one chance we may have to take down several violent individuals may pass us by and we may not get the chance again,” the agent wrote. “This means that the victims of those crimes and their families will get no justice.”


Read more: From airport lines to food inspections, here are all the ways the government shutdown is impacting the lives of average Americans

Another agent, who said they had been working on a long-term MS-13 investigation for three years, said since the shutdown began there have been no Spanish speakers working in their division, meaning they haven’t been able to properly communicate with several of their Spanish-speaking informants.

The government shutdown has also forced many FBI agents to borrow money from state and local partners for operations.

“We do not have funding for the following: operational travel, funding to pay for the load vehicle, or funding to pay the [confidential sources],” an agent said. “We may miss the opportunity to conduct the operation … Multiple subjects could potentially not be identified or arrested based on the lack of funding.”

The report, which is peppered with drawings sent to FBI agents by children, makes the same plea many other federal workers have made to lawmakers in Washington: re-open the government so that they can continue doing their jobs – and have financial security.

“I am worried about the financial impact this is having,” an agent said. “I am worried about paying bills and having to find a part-time job to make ends meet. What also greatly worries me is the status of my daughter.… She wants to become a Special Agent in the next two years, but she is also having to worry about how she is going to make it.”

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.