Intel chief: Sequester will make it harder to stop terrorists

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Clapper stressed that he was not objecting to making appropriate cuts to the intelligence community’s budget, but that those reductions should not be made arbitrarily.

For the first time in public, Clapper detailed some of the effects that the sequestration cuts will have on U.S. intelligence operations.

The collection of intelligence will be greatly reduced, he said, if the FBI has to furlough the thousands of staff members it employs through the National Intelligence Program. Those furloughs will leave the country more vulnerable to surprise attacks, according to Clapper.

The counter-cyber terrorism efforts will also be cut back, increasing the possibility of spotting an attack early on, said Clapper. More than 5,000 contractors will not be able to renew their contracts and research development will be thwarted, he said.

“We are not arguing against taking our share of the budget reductions,” said Clapper. “What I am saying is we must manage this budget crisis, and continue our vital missions. And in so doing, we'll minimize the impact on our nation and on our employees.

“Therefore, I plan to submit a reprogramming action that mitigates some of the most egregious cuts to help us cut in a more rational mission focused manner.”