Adm. Michael S. Rogers and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper both warned Tuesday about the national security threats presented by another potential government shutdown.
"I'm rather struck by the irony here," Clapper said. "Before I left my office to come to this hearing, I was reviewing the directions that we're putting out to our people for shutting down and furloughing people. What better time for a cyber attack by an adversary when much of our expertise might be furloughed."
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"I think that's a very important comment, director, and thank you for saying it," Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) said. "There are some of us who feel it's urgent that we inform the American people of the threats to our national security of another government shutdown."
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) asked Rogers, the director of Cyber Command, what the impact on cyber security would be if another shutdown occurred. Rogers replied with the negatives of the last shutdown in 2013, saying he had to shut down the school system, adversely affecting training and education for the security work force, as well as shut down travel associated with training and technical development efforts.
He also said many in government cyber security would begin to truly question the worth of working for the government if they were again subjected to a government work stoppage.
"My other concern is, if we do this again, the amount of our workforce that says, ‘You know, twice in the course of two years … I've got a family. I've got mortgages. I've got to take care of myself. As much as I love the mission, as much as I believe in defending the nation, I can't put myself or this family through this. I've got to go work in the commercial sector,'" Rogers said. "That would be terrible for us."
"Despite all our technology, never forget it is men and women that power this enterprise," he said. "That's our advantage."