FBI in shutdown: ‘We can’t pay informants’

FBI agents complained Monday that the month-old US government shutdown is preventing them from paying informants, buying drugs undercover in narcotics busts, and even renewing their own security clearances.

Investigations and prosecutions are suffering from the lack of money to travel to interview witnesses or funds to pay translators, agents are saying, according to Tom O’Connor, president of the FBI Agents Association (FBIAA).

“Every day that the shutdown continues, the operational impediments created by the shutdown get worse and damage our counterterrorism and counterintelligence operations around the globe,” said O’Connor, raising the pressure on the White House and Congress to end the shutdown.

The shutdown began on December 22 after President Donald Trump rejected a proposed government funding bill that did not meet his demand for billions of dollars to build a wall on the US-Mexico border.

Since then Trump and Democrats have stuck to their positions, leaving no end in sight for 800,000 federal workers and millions of contract workers furloughed without pay.

Most of the 13,000 FBI special agents still have to work, and O’Connor said a new FBIAA report shows training, investigations and recruitment are all suffering.

Several agents said the dwindling operations resources make it impossible to keep paying tipsters and informants. “Not being able to pay Confidential Human Sources risks losing them and the information they provide FOREVER. It is not a switch that we can turn on and off,” said an unidentified agent from the central part of the US.

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