After criticism from members of Congress that the U.S. Intelligence Community had furloughed too many of its workers in response to the shutdown of the government, the Central Intelligence Agency announced late Tuesday that it would begin recalling workers starting Wednesday.
In an email to CIA employees, the agency's director, John Brennan, said he was making the move because "keeping our staffing at the dramatically reduced levels of the past week would pose a threat to the safety of human life and the protection of property."
Those are the criteria for determining that a federal employee is essential, as opposed to non-essential.
How many workers will be recalled wasn't yet known. Brennan said the CIA couldn't recall everyone and that managers are still determining who would be included in the recall.
Those called back to work would be "employees who are necessary to carry out CIA's core missions of foreign intelligence collection, all-source analysis, covert action, and counterintelligence."
Brennan joins Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in recalling workers who'd been furloughed after the government shutdown began Oct. 1. Hagel said he was recalling 300,000 or so civilian workers under a congressional act that said employees could be paid who were essential to the welfare of the uniformed military. Members of the military are not affected by the shutdown.
Brennan said he couldn't promise that the recalled workers would be paid during the shutdown, but Congress has already passed legislation to make sure that furloughed workers receive pay they've lost during the shutdown. So the CIA workers will eventually get their money.
Here's the email Brennan sent:
Starting tomorrow—Wednesday, 9 October—we will begin recalling CIA employees who are necessary to carry out CIA’s core missions of foreign intelligence collection, all-source analysis, covert action, and counterintelligence. I have made this decision because of the potential adverse cumulative and unseen impact on our national security from the now week-long furloughing of a significant portion of the CIA workforce, as keeping our staffing at the dramatically reduced levels of the past week would pose a threat to the safety of human life and the protection of property.
This decision does not mean that we can recall all of our employees. We only have the ability to recall workers involved directly in our core missions. There are still important functions that we will not be able to perform. However, this action will help ensure that our Agency can effectively carry out its mission to protect our country and provide the President with critical intelligence during the lapse in funding that began on 1 October.
This new guidance goes beyond the staffing plans at the outset of the funding hiatus, and Agency managers are in the process of determining exactly who will be recalled under revised staffing plans. Unfortunately, the guidance does not guarantee that we will be able to pay our employees during the hiatus.
I know that we are all extremely frustrated at the continuing budget impasse, which has caused a partial shutdown of government functions and a furloughing of hundreds of thousands of government employees, including many CIA officers. The past week certainly has been a challenging one for CIA as well as for other U.S. Government departments and agencies, and we enter a second week not knowing when we will be able to return to normal operating conditions.
On behalf of the entire Agency leadership team, I want to thank those who have been furloughed for their tremendous patience as well as those officers who have been at work, trying to make do without the aid of their valuable colleagues. Once again, the outstanding dedication to mission and resilience of CIA officers—and of the family members who support them—are truly inspiring, and it is an honor to serve with each one of you.