The shutdown, writes The Times, is a result of months of agonizing about how to deal with the effects of government spending cuts. The Bureau's officials have decided that this is the easiest way to furlough employees, whose compensation accounts for roughly 60 percent of the FBI's budget. At present, it costs the Bureau about $16 million a day to pay its employees. After the measures are implemented, the FBI will have only a skeleton crew on hand.
In fact, goes on the story, this raises questions about how effectively the FBI can respond to crime, and other federal law enforcement agencies are expected to adopt similar furlough plans as cost-cutting measures.
The shutdown conjures images of the movie "The Purge", released last summer, in which the government allows people to commit crimes like murder and rape for 12 hours once a year.
There is, though, a very humble difference between the imaginary situation depicted in "The Purge" and the real one in today's America that has been overlooked by The New York Times. "The Purge" is set in the year 2022 when the United States has become "a nation reborn", with crime and unemployment rates hitting an all-time low. The government institutes an annual 12‑hour period called "the Purge" during which all criminal activity (including murder, theft and rape) becomes legal. The Purge is designed to act as a catharsis for the American people, so that they may vent all negative emotions and repressed urges however and on whoever they desire.
Definitely, this is not the case. Unemployment, as well as crime rate is much higher than in the imaginary US, and the amount of weapons on the Americans' hands is too high for anyone to desire a "catharsis".
In such situation, if President Barack Obama really wished to care for his people, he should probably consider raising the effectiveness of America's main law enforcement agency rather than sequestrate its budget. The in government spending cuts come as much more striking against the backdrop of increased military expenditures on the ongoing war in Afghanistan and preparations for a new one against Syria.
On Thursday, Barack Obama announced that he is shifting his focus to domestic priorities. This again has not likely resulted from any special concern for domestic need, but rather from an apprehended flop of his sword-swaying policy towards Syria. But, taken the Republican majority in the House, his new focus on domestic affairs is not going to be any rosier than his foreign policy.
The Times' report is sure to add to Obama's troubles. Many experts quoted by the paper have already stated that the furloughs may force the Bureau's employees to seek higher-paying jobs in the private sector.
And even the FBI's new director James B. Comey who took his post a week ago expresses concern that the cuts are too substantial and will affect the Bureau's operations.
"I can’t imagine that if we have charged people with protecting their fellow citizens that it makes sense to send them home and tell them you can't work for two weeks without pay," he said.
To come to think of it, there sure is some logic in the whole matter. Obama's administration has shown its eagerness to affiliate with most militant and criminal groups in the Middle East, including Al Qaeda. Why then should it treat domestic criminals any differently?
Boris Volkhonsky, senior research fellow, Russian Institute for Strategic Studies