The White House panel tasked with reviewing the state of US intelligence operations has been stalled by the government shutdown, Politico reports. According to internal sources, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper decided on Friday to furlough the panel's staff, freezing the five members' funds to travel to Washington. While they can continue to discuss the issues, the lack of funding and general state of government affairs means their work is effectively frozen for the near future.
Even before the freeze, the shutdown had already put the panel on shaky grounds. Early last week, panel member and former CIA director Michael Morell declined to meet with Congressional intelligence committee members, saying that it was inappropriate to keep a review panel running while 70 percent of civilian intelligence community members are currently staying home from work. "While the work we're doing is important, it is no more important than — and quite frankly a lot less important — than a lot of the work being left undone by the government shutdown, both in the intelligence community and outside the intelligence community." Morell also said that Congress shouldn't be distracted by other issues while it should be ending the shutdown.
The review panel is far from the most important thing affected by the shutdown. It is, however, working on a tight deadline: it was initially supposed to present an interim report 60 days after starting its work in August, then make a final presentation to the White House by December 15th. We've reached out to see if those deadlines have been adjusted due to the shutdown, but with no end in sight, there's no guarantee the government could process a report even if it was submitted.