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Deep State

News Media-Military-Industrial Complex Recommended Books Recommended Links National Security State / Surveillance State Big Uncle is Watching You  US and British media are servants of security apparatus
 Nation under attack meme Fake News scare and US NeoMcCartyism Trump vs. Deep State Anti Trump Hysteria Anti-Russian hysteria in connection emailgate and DNC leak Neoconservatism New American Militarism
Jingoism of the US neoliberal elite American Exceptionalism Corporatism Neo-fascism Inverted Totalitarism Bureaucracies Bureaucracy as a Political Coalition
Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism  The Pareto Law Amorality of neoliberal elite Casino Capitalism Ayn Rand and Objectivism Cult Pluralism as a myth What's the Matter with Kansas
Neoliberal Brainwashing: Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few The Guardian Slips Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment The importance of controlling the narrative  Patterns of Propaganda Corruption of Regulators Two Party System as polyarchy Audacioues Oligarchy and Loss of Trust
Hillary "Warmonger" Clinton - unsuccessful deep state candidate for presidency US Presidential Elections of 2016 as a referendum on neoliberal globalization Swiftboating Trump: Khan gambit against Trump at the Democratic Convention Obama: a yet another Neocon Neocon foreign policy is a disaster for the USA Robert Kagan Paul Wolfowitz
Wrecking Crew: Notes on Republican Economic Policy Libertarian Philosophy In Goldman Sachs we trust: classic example of regulatory capture by financial system hackers Groupthink Skeptic Quotations Humor Etc


DEEP STATE n. A hard-to-perceive level of government or super-control that exists regardless of elections and that may thwart popular movements or radical change. Some have said that Egypt is being manipulated by its deep state.

A Wordnado of Words in 2013 - , Dec 21, 2013

"For some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the government.... I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations."

President Harry Truman

"For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence - on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day.

It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations. Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed."

President John_F._Kennedy, speech on April 27, 1961

In a way, the concept of  Corporatism and the concept of  "deep state' are very close, almost synonyms. Corporatism presuppose the merger of government and corporations. It can be done openly as was the case in Mussolini Italy, or via back door including the "revolving door" mechanism as it was done in the USA. In the latter case part of power of 'surface state" is preserved. 

The concept of the  deep state is related to the answer the another fundamental question: Can democracy exists in a state with powerful intelligence agencies like NSA, CIA, FBI (which plays the role of counterintelligence agency in the USA; look at Russiagate) and the State Department (which has functions,  which duplicate those of CIA).  Thus  the concept of the "deep state" can be viewed as a reformulation of the iron law of oligarchy in state level, explaining the role of intelligence agencies as an immanent part of the ruling elite.  For example, the neoliberals elite which rules the USA since late 80th.

Intelligence agencies  get special status under corporatism. moreover they now constitute the backbone Media-Military-Industrial Complex which is extended to major Wall Street banks (which historically have a very close ties with CIA; CIA was formed by lawyers which served their interests such  as Allen Dulles).   Under neoliberalism the financial oligarchy became the most important part of this complex (especially Goldman Sachs  and Citibank). Recently Silicon Valley mega corporations also joined it and all of them are closely connected to NSA and CIA (especially Amazon, Google and Facebook). So now this is Media-Military-Financial-Industrial-SiliconValley complex.

This is a new unelected aristocracy with huge financial resources that stands above law and can't be easily demotes from their positions (on intelligence againces level, J. Edgar Hoover  is an excellent example here).  They now are a new incarnation of  the "royal court", which can, like in old times,  to depose a monarch or even kill him.

So in a way the concept of "deep state"  implies and emphasizes the hypertrophied role of three letter agencies among unelected government bureaucracy. They are  joined at the heap with  financial oligarchy, MIC and Silicon Valley in national politics. Especially in formulating foreign policy. Influence  of MIC on  the US foreign policy is nothing new.  After all one of the hypotheses of why JFK was killed is that his  policies were directed against intelligences agencies and MIC.

But devil is always in details and some features of the USA deep state are unique and different the deep state in other neoliberal countries such as EU, GB or Russia. BTW the term "deep state" originated in Turkey. 

But the deep state victory is always "incomplete."  The "surface state" is still keeping some positions and even try to counterattack deep state in certain areas. Second, the merger of interests of three letter agencies like CIA/NSA (politically active factions at FBI and State Department can be views as subsidiary of CIA, see Strzogate for details ) and Wall Street can never be absolute. They have somewhat different worldviews on both the USA foreign policy priorities and methods of achieving them. Of cause the by-and-large coinside bu still there are some differences. As we can see from Syria war such differences can lead to essentially supporting hostile to each other  group while trying to achive the same color revolution based "regime change" in the country.

Also relations between three letter agencies are far from harmonious at all with CIA ('humint") very concerned about recent rise of status and capabilities of NSA ("sigint").  They lie to each other and try to poach  funds from the other agencies. for example the relations between NSA and CIA are far from harmonious with CIA brass being very concerted about increase  role of NSA in the era on Internet communications  and trying to counterattack. Add to this a special, more independent, status and role of military intelligence which also in now in best relations with both CIA and NSA (as destiny of General Flynn, who served as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency,  and in 2017 was entrapped by FBI with the help of NSA and CIA can attest). So in certain areas they are more like spiders in the cage with CIA perfectly capable attacking NSA and vise versa. That gives us some hope. 

Two party system invented by elite of Great Britain proved to be perfect for inverted totalitarism type of regimes, including the US neoliberalism.  But there is second trend here which increase the elite control of the county:  this is dramatic transfer of power to institutions of "deep state", which in certain sense now like TBTF are beyond civil  control. As well as a secret alliance between Wall Street and CIA and other three letter agencies.

All those factors essentially make Presidential and Congress election in the USA truly optional, serving mostly ceremonial, decorative function. Yes elections still continue to exist and sometime provide good theater, within the strict rules of an emasculated "two parties, winner takes all" system, ehich if you think about it is not that different from one party elections in the USSR.

They still have a role in legitimizing the current rulers, although actual rules are not the same as those who were elected. This is especially true about the two recent US Presidents: George W Bush and Brack Obama.  And that explains why Barack Obama foreign policy is essentially a continuation of policy of George W Bush with minor tweaks.  Just the fact that neocon Victoria Nuland who worked for Cheney was promoted to the key role of the  Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs  tells that Obama controls very little in foreign policy area and that 'deep state" is functioning autonomously and without control of "surface state".

The USA political system does not have a single government. It actually has two distinct governments. They are called "surface state" or Madisonians and "deep state" or Trumanites (national security establishment in alliance with selected members of financial oligarchy, media owners and technocrats). The latter term emerged because it was Harry Truman who signed National Security Act of 1947  which created major three letter agencies (CIA, DOD, FBI and NSA).

Simplifying the complex relation between those two US governments (sometimes Madisonians fight back and have Trumanites to make a temporary retreat) we can say that:

In other words, the "Deep state" represent the actual government of the  society by unelected elite, which is  composed of high-level officials within the intelligence services, military, law enforcement, judiciary and, often, organized crime. It is an extended variant of military industrial complex dominance (see Media-Military-Industrial Complex) as it includes selected members of financial oligarchy along with industrialists and media owners.  In British author John le Carré’s latest novel, A Delicate Truth, a character describes the Deep State as

“… the ever-expanding circle of non-governmental insiders from banking, industry and commerce who were cleared for highly classified information denied to large swathes of Whitehall and Westminster.”

Conversion of system of governance to "deep state" which happened in the USA almost immediately after 1947 essentially made elections optional, but they still continue to exist as a ceremonial function for the sake of providing the legitimacy of the government in an emasculated "two parties system" form.  While relationship is more complex then simple dominance, in essence "deep state" is the tail that wag the dog. And JFK assassination (Nov 22, 1963)  meant first of all the triumph of "deep state" over "surface state". In this sense 9/11 was just the last nail in the coffin of democracy.

The term “Deep State” was coined in Turkey (and actually Wikipedia discusses only it) but it is widespread modern phenomenon which can also be found in most other states, especially neoliberal states. For example, it able to govern the United States without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process, after which elected candidates switly perform "bat and switch" maneuver and conduct polices radically different from those for which they were elected. As any elite dominance project it is deeply anti-democratic although it uses fig leaf of democracy for foreign expansion via color revolutions and wars. 

Like in Third Reich, this dominance is supported by relentless propaganda and brainwashing with mechanisms polished since Reagan to perfection. There is now no problem to create an "enemy of the people" when the elite wants and it does not matter which country or individual is selected as an enemy. The essence of elite politics in this area was best formulated by Hermann Goering, President of the Reichstag, Nazi Party, and Luftwaffe Commander in Chief

Naturally the common people don't want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

In other words this is a hidden set of political actors and powerful institutions that are concealed within the wider, “visible” state which, essentially, took over the functions of traditional state, leaving such organization of Executive branch, President, congress and courts mainly ceremonial role. Such transformation is well explained by the The Iron Law of Oligarchy and in various forms happened in Third Reich, the USSR, Turkey, China and many other countries.

Mike Lofgren: the “deep state” is the Washington-Wall-Street-Silicon-Valley Establishment

Here is how The American Conservative covers this topic:

Steve Sailer links to this unsettling essay by former career Congressional staffer Mike Lofgren, who says the “deep state” — the Washington-Wall-Street-Silicon-Valley Establishment — is a far greater threat to liberty than you think. The partisan rancor and gridlock in Washington conceals a more fundamental and pervasive agreement.


These are not isolated instances of a contradiction; they have been so pervasive that they tend to be disregarded as background noise. During the time in 2011 when political warfare over the debt ceiling was beginning to paralyze the business of governance in Washington, the United States government somehow summoned the resources to overthrow Muammar Ghaddafi’s regime in Libya, and, when the instability created by that coup spilled over into Mali, provide overt and covert assistance to French intervention there. At a time when there was heated debate about continuing meat inspections and civilian air traffic control because of the budget crisis, our government was somehow able to commit $115 million to keeping a civil war going in Syria and to pay at least £100m to the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters to buy influence over and access to that country’s intelligence. Since 2007, two bridges carrying interstate highways have collapsed due to inadequate maintenance of infrastructure, one killing 13 people. During that same period of time, the government spent $1.7 billion constructing a building in Utah that is the size of 17 football fields. This mammoth structure is intended to allow the National Security Agency to store a yottabyte of information, the largest numerical designator computer scientists have coined. A yottabyte is equal to 500 quintillion pages of text. They need that much storage to archive every single trace of your electronic life.

Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose. My analysis of this phenomenon is not an exposé of a secret, conspiratorial cabal; the state within a state is hiding mostly in plain sight, and its operators mainly act in the light of day. Nor can this other government be accurately termed an “establishment.” All complex societies have an establishment, a social network committed to its own enrichment and perpetuation. In terms of its scope, financial resources and sheer global reach, the American hybrid state, the Deep State, is in a class by itself. That said, it is neither omniscient nor invincible. The institution is not so much sinister (although it has highly sinister aspects) as it is relentlessly well entrenched. Far from being invincible, its failures, such as those in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, are routine enough that it is only the Deep State’s protectiveness towards its higher-ranking personnel that allows them to escape the consequences of their frequent ineptitude.


Washington is the most important node of the Deep State that has taken over America, but it is not the only one. Invisible threads of money and ambition connect the town to other nodes. One is Wall Street, which supplies the cash that keeps the political machine quiescent and operating as a diversionary marionette theater. Should the politicians forget their lines and threaten the status quo, Wall Street floods the town with cash and lawyers to help the hired hands remember their own best interests. The executives of the financial giants even have de facto criminal immunity. On March 6, 2013, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Eric Holder stated the following: “I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.” This, from the chief law enforcement officer of a justice system that has practically abolished the constitutional right to trial for poorer defendants charged with certain crimes. It is not too much to say that Wall Street may be the ultimate owner of the Deep State and its strategies, if for no other reason than that it has the money to reward government operatives with a second career that is lucrative beyond the dreams of avarice — certainly beyond the dreams of a salaried government employee. [3]

The corridor between Manhattan and Washington is a well trodden highway for the personalities we have all gotten to know in the period since the massive deregulation of Wall Street: Robert Rubin, Lawrence Summers, Henry Paulson, Timothy Geithner and many others. Not all the traffic involves persons connected with the purely financial operations of the government: In 2013, General David Petraeus joined KKR (formerly Kohlberg Kravis Roberts) of 9 West 57th Street, New York, a private equity firm with $62.3 billion in assets. KKR specializes in management buyouts and leveraged finance. General Petraeus’ expertise in these areas is unclear. His ability to peddle influence, however, is a known and valued commodity. Unlike Cincinnatus, the military commanders of the Deep State do not take up the plow once they lay down the sword. Petraeus also obtained a sinecure as a non-resident senior fellow at theBelfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard. The Ivy League is, of course, the preferred bleaching tub and charm school of the American oligarchy.

Lofgren goes on to say that Silicon Valley is a node of the Deep State too, and that despite the protestations of its chieftains against NSA spying, it’s a vital part of the Deep State’s apparatus. More:

The Deep State is the big story of our time. It is the red thread that runs through the war on terrorism, the financialization and deindustrialization of the American economy, the rise of a plutocratic social structure and political dysfunction. Washington is the headquarters of the Deep State, and its time in the sun as a rival to Rome, Constantinople or London may be term-limited by its overweening sense of self-importance and its habit, as Winwood Reade said of Rome, to “live upon its principal till ruin stared it in the face.”

Read the whole thing.  Steve Sailer says that the Shallow State is a complement to the Deep State. The Shallow State is, I think, another name for what the Neoreactionaries call “The Cathedral,” defined thus:

The Cathedral — The self-organizing consensus of Progressives and Progressive ideology represented by the universities, the media, and the civil service. A term coined by blogger Mencius Moldbug. The Cathedral has no central administrator, but represents a consensus acting as a coherent group that condemns other ideologies as evil. Community writers have enumerated the platform of Progressivism as women’s suffrage, prohibition, abolition, federal income tax, democratic election of senators, labor laws, desegregation, popularization of drugs, destruction of traditional sexual norms, ethnic studies courses in colleges, decolonization, and gay marriage. A defining feature of Progressivism is that “you believe that morality has been essentially solved, and all that’s left is to work out the details.” Reactionaries see Republicans as Progressives, just lagging 10-20 years behind Democrats in their adoption of Progressive norms.

You don’t have to agree with the Neoreactionaries on what they condemn — women’s suffrage? desegregation? labor laws? really?? — to acknowledge that they’re onto something about the sacred consensus that all Right-Thinking People share. I would love to see a study comparing the press coverage from 9/11 leading up to the Iraq War with press coverage of the gay marriage issue from about 2006 till today. Specifically, I’d be curious to know about how thoroughly the media covered the cases against the policies that the Deep State and the Shallow State decided should prevail. I’m not suggesting a conspiracy here, not at all. I’m only thinking back to how it seemed so obvious to me in 2002 that we should go to war with Iraq, so perfectly clear that the only people who opposed it were fools or villains. The same consensus has emerged around same-sex marriage. I know how overwhelmingly the news media have believed this for some time, such that many American journalists simply cannot conceive that anyone against same-sex marriage is anything other than a fool or a villain. Again, this isn’t a conspiracy; it’s in the nature of the thing. Lofgren:

Cultural assimilation is partly a matter of what psychologist Irving L. Janis called “groupthink,” the chameleon-like ability of people to adopt the views of their superiors and peers. This syndrome is endemic to Washington: The town is characterized by sudden fads, be it negotiating biennial budgeting, making grand bargains or invading countries. Then, after a while, all the town’s cool kids drop those ideas as if they were radioactive. As in the military, everybody has to get on board with the mission, and questioning it is not a career-enhancing move. The universe of people who will critically examine the goings-on at the institutions they work for is always going to be a small one. As Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

A more elusive aspect of cultural assimilation is the sheer dead weight of the ordinariness of it all once you have planted yourself in your office chair for the 10,000th time. Government life is typically not some vignette from an Allen Drury novel about intrigue under the Capitol dome. Sitting and staring at the clock on the off-white office wall when it’s 11:00 in the evening and you are vowing never, ever to eat another piece of takeout pizza in your life is not an experience that summons the higher literary instincts of a would-be memoirist. After a while, a functionary of the state begins to hear things that, in another context, would be quite remarkable, or at least noteworthy, and yet that simply bounce off one’s consciousness like pebbles off steel plate: “You mean the number of terrorist groups we are fighting is classified?” No wonder so few people are whistle-blowers, quite apart from the vicious retaliation whistle-blowing often provokes: Unless one is blessed with imagination and a fine sense of irony, growing immune to the curiousness of one’s surroundings is easy. To paraphrase the inimitable Donald Rumsfeld, I didn’t know all that I knew, at least until I had had a couple of years away from the government to reflect upon it.

When all you know is the people who surround you in your professional class bubble and your social circles, you can think the whole world agrees with you, or should. It’s probably not a coincidence that the American media elite live, work, and socialize in New York and Washington, the two cities that were attacked on 9/11, and whose elites — political, military, financial — were so genuinely traumatized by the events.

Anyway, that’s just a small part of it, about how the elite media manufacture consent. Here’s a final quote, one from the Moyers interview with Lofgren:

BILL MOYERS: If, as you write, the ideology of the Deep State is not democrat or republican, not left or right, what is it?

MIKE LOFGREN: It’s an ideology. I just don’t think we’ve named it. It’s a kind of corporatism. Now, the actors in this drama tend to steer clear of social issues. They pretend to be merrily neutral servants of the state, giving the best advice possible on national security or financial matters. But they hold a very deep ideology of the Washington consensus at home, which is deregulation, outsourcing, de-industrialization and financialization. And they believe in American exceptionalism abroad, which is boots on the ground everywhere, it’s our right to meddle everywhere in the world. And the result of that is perpetual war.

This can’t last. We’d better hope it can’t last. And we’d better hope it unwinds peacefully.

I, for one, remain glad that so many of us Americans are armed. When the Deep State collapses — and it will one day — it’s not going to be a happy time.

Questions to the room: Is a Gorbachev for the Deep State conceivable? That is, could you foresee a political leader emerging who could unwind the ideology and apparatus of the Deep State, and not only survive, but succeed? Or is it impossible for the Deep State to allow such a figure to thrive? Or is the Deep State, like the Soviet system Gorbachev failed to reform, too entrenched and too far gone to reform itself? If so, what then?

Professor Michael J. Glennon   book “National Security and Double Government.”

The second important thinker in this area is  Professor Michael J. Glennon who wrote the book  “National Security and Double Government.”. The strong point of his views on the subject is that he assumes that there is an internal struggle between those two forms of government, not just passive submission one to nother, but in most cases deep state prevails. This move led the USA "beyond a mere imperial presidency to a bifurcated system — a structure of double government — in which even the President now exercises little substantive control over the overall direction of U.S. national security policy."

The "deep state" (call by Professor Michael J. Glennon) The Trumanites, exersize their power due to alliance with Wall Street, almost unlimited funding (with many hidden sources belong US budget),  higher efficiency, abuse of secrecy, exaggerated threats, peer pressure to conform, and corruption of  the key decision-makers.

Here is how Amazon reviewer Mal Warwick summarized the book in his review written on December 22, 2014

Who makes national security decisions? Not who you think!

Why does Barack Obama's performance on national security issues in the White House contrast so strongly with his announced intentions as a candidate in 2008? After all, not only has Obama continued most of the Bush policies he decried when he ran for the presidency, he has doubled down on government surveillance, drone strikes, and other critical programs.

Michael J. Glennon set out to answer this question in his unsettling new book, National Security and Double Government. And he clearly dislikes what he found.

The answer, Glennon discovered, is that the US government is divided between the three official branches of the government, on the one hand — the "Madisonian" institutions incorporated into the Constitution — and the several hundred unelected officials who do the real work of a constellation of military and intelligence agencies, on the other hand. These officials, called "Trumanites" in Glennon's parlance for having grown out of the national security infrastructure established under Harry Truman, make the real decisions in the area of national security. (To wage the Cold War, Truman created the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Department of Defense, the CIA, the NSA, and the National Security Council.) "The United States has, in short," Glennon writes, "moved beyond a mere imperial presidency to a bifurcated system — a structure of double government — in which even the President now exercises little substantive control over the overall direction of U.S. national security policy. . . . The perception of threat, crisis, and emergency has been the seminal phenomenon that has created and nurtures America's double government." If Al Qaeda hadn't existed, the Trumanite network would have had to create it — and, Glennon seems to imply, might well have done so.

The Trumanites wield their power with practiced efficiency, using secrecy, exaggerated threats, peer pressure to conform, and the ability to mask the identity of the key decision-maker as their principal tools.

Michael J. Glennon comes to this task with unexcelled credentials. A professor of international law at Tufts and former legal counsel for the Senate Armed Services Committee, he came face to face on a daily basis with the "Trumanites" he writes about. National Security and Double Government is exhaustively researched and documented: notes constitute two-thirds of this deeply disturbing little book.

The more I learn about how politics and government actually work — and I've learned a fair amount in my 73 years — the more pessimistic I become about the prospects for democracy in America. In some ways, this book is the most worrisome I've read over the years, because it implies that there is no reason whatsoever to think that things can ever get better. In other words, to borrow a phrase from the Borg on Star Trek, "resistance is futile." That's a helluva takeaway, isn't it?

On reflection, what comes most vividly to mind is a comment from the late Chalmers Johnson on a conference call in which I participated several years ago. Johnson, formerly a consultant to the CIA and a professor at two campuses of the University of California (Berkeley and later San Diego), was the author of many books, including three that awakened me to many of the issues Michael Glennon examines: Blowback, The Sorrows of Empire, and Nemesis. Johnson, who was then nearly 80 and in declining health, was asked by a student what he would recommend for young Americans who want to combat the menace of the military-industrial complex. "Move to Vancouver," he said.

Another good summary of the book can be found is review by Bruce Morgan (Shadow Government )

October 28, 2014 | Tufts Now

Elected officials are no longer in charge of our national security—and that is undermining our democracy, says the Fletcher School's Michael Glennon

Michael Glennon in his office

"We are clearly on the path to autocracy," says Michael Glennon. "There's no question that if we continue on that path, [the] Congress, the courts and the presidency will ultimately end up . . . as institutional museum pieces." Photo: Kelvin Ma

Michael Glennon knew of the book, and had cited it in his classes many times, but he had never gotten around to reading the thing from cover to cover. Last year he did, jolted page after page with its illuminating message for our time.

The book was The English Constitution, an analysis by 19th-century journalist Walter Bagehot that laid bare the dual nature of British governance. It suggested that one part of government was for popular consumption, and another more hidden part was for real, consumed with getting things done in the world. As he read, Glennon, a professor of international law at the Fletcher School, where he also teaches constitutional law, saw distinct parallels with the current American political scene.

He decided to explore the similarities in a 30-page paper that he sent around to a number of his friends, asking them to validate or refute his argument. As it happens, Glennon's friends were an extraordinarily well-informed bunch, mostly seasoned operatives in the CIA, the U.S. State Department and the military. "Look," he told them. "I'm thinking of writing a book. Tell me if this is wrong." Every single one responded, "What you have here is exactly right."

Expanded from that original brief paper, Glennon's book National Security and Double Government (Oxford University Press) takes our political system to task, arguing that the people running our government are not our visible elected officials but high-level—and unaccountable—bureaucrats nestled atop government agencies.

Glennon's informed critique of the American political system comes from a place of deep regard. Glennon says he can remember driving into Washington, D.C., in the late spring of 1973, at the time of the Senate Watergate hearings, straight from law school at the University of Minnesota, to take his first job as assistant legislative counsel to the U.S. Senate. Throughout his 20s, he worked in government, culminating in his position as legal counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee under Sen. Frank Church from 1977 to 1980. Since entering academic life in the early 1980s, Glennon has been a frequent consultant to government agencies of all stripes, as well as a regular commentator on media outlets such as NPR's All Things Considered, the Today show and Nightline.

In his new book, an inescapable sadness underlies the narrative. "I feel a great sense of loss," Glennon admits. "I devoted my life to these [democratic] institutions, and it's not easy to see how to throw the current trends into reverse." Tufts Now spoke with Glennon recently to learn more of his perspective.

Tufts Now: You've been both an insider and an outsider with regard to government affairs. What led you to write this book?

Michael Glennon: I was struck by the strange continuity in national security policy between the Bush administration and the Obama administration. Obama, as a candidate, had been eloquent and forceful in criticizing many aspects of the Bush administration's national security policies, from drone strikes to Guantanamo to surveillance by the National Security Agency—the NSA—to covert operations. Yet as president, it turned out that he made very, very few changes in these policies. So I thought it was useful to explain the reason for that.

Were you surprised by the continuity?

I was surprised by the extent of it. I knew fundamentally from my own experience that changing national policies is like trying to change the course of an aircraft carrier. These policies in many ways were set long ago, and the national security bureaucracy tends to favor the status quo. Still, I thought that a president like Obama would, with the political wind in his sails and with so much public and congressional support for what he was criticizing, be more successful in fulfilling his promises.

You use the phrase "double government," coined by Walter Bagehot in the 1860s. What did he mean by that?

Walter Bagehot was one of the founders of the Economist magazine. He developed the theory of "double government," which in a nutshell is this. He said Britain had developed two sets of institutions. First came "dignified" institutions, the monarchy and the House of Lords, which were for show and which the public believed ran the government. But in fact, he suggested, this was an illusion.

These dignified institutions generate legitimacy, but it was a second set of institutions, which he called Britain's "efficient" institutions, that actually ran the government behind the scenes. These institutions were the House of Commons, the Cabinet and the prime minister. This split allowed Britain to move quietly from a monarchy to what Bagehot called a "concealed republic."

The thesis of my book is that the United States has also drifted into a form of double government, and that we have our own set of "dignified" institutions—Congress, the presidency and the courts. But when it comes to national security policy, these entities have become largely for show. National security policy is now formulated primarily by a second group of officials, namely the several hundred individuals who manage the agencies of the military, intelligence and law enforcement bureaucracy responsible for protecting the nation's security.

What are some components of this arrangement?

The NSA, the FBI, the Pentagon and elements of the State Department, certainly; generally speaking, law enforcement, intelligence and the military entities of the government. It's a diverse group, an amorphous group, with no leader and no formal structure, that has come to dominate the formation of American national security policy to the point that Congress, the presidency and the courts all defer to it.

You call this group the "Trumanite network" in your book. What's the link to Harry Truman?

It was in Truman's administration that the National Security Act of 1947 was enacted. This established the CIA and the National Security Council and centralized the command of the U.S. military. It was during the Truman administration as well that the National Security Agency [NSA] was set up, in 1952, although that was a secret and didn't come to light for many years thereafter.

In contrast to the Trumanites you set the "Madisonians." How would you describe them?

The Madisonian institutions are the three constitutionally established branches of the federal government: Congress, the judiciary and the president. They are perceived by the public as the entities responsible for the formulation of national security policy, but that belief is largely mistaken.

The idea is driven by regular exceptions. You can always point to specific instances in which, say, the president personally ordered the killing of Osama bin Laden or Congress enacted the War Powers Resolution. But these are exceptions. The norm is that as a general matter, these three branches defer to the Trumanite network, and that's truer all the time.

So the trend is toward increased power on the Trumanite side of the ledger.


If that's true, why has there not been a greater outcry from the public, the media—all the observers we have?

I think the principal reason is that even sophisticated students of government operate under a very serious misunderstanding. They believe that the political system is self-correcting. They believe the framers set up a system of government setting power against power, and ambition against ambition, and that an equilibrium would be reached, and that any abuse of power would be checked, and arbitrary power would be prevented.

That is correct as far as it goes, but the reality is that's only half the picture. The other half is that Madison and his colleagues believed that for equilibrium to occur, we would have an informed and engaged citizenry. Lacking that, the entire system corrupts, because individuals are elected to office who do not resist encroachments on the power of their branches of government, and the whole equilibrium breaks down.

What role, if any, have the media played?

The media have pretty much been enablers. Although there are a handful of investigative journalists who have done a heroic job of uncovering many of the abuses, they are the exception, for a number of reasons. Number one, the media are a business and have a bottom line. It takes a huge amount of money to fund an investigative journalist who goes about finding sources over a period of years. Very few newspapers or television concerns have those sorts of deep pockets.

Second, access for the press is everything. There is huge incentive to pull punches, and you don't get interviews with top-ranking officials at the NSA or CIA if you're going to offer hard-hitting questions. Look, for example, at the infamous 60 Minutes puff piece on the NSA, a really tragic example of how an otherwise respectable institution can sell its soul and act like an annex of the NSA in order to get some people it wants on the TV screen.

What is the role of terror in this environment?

The whole transfer of power from the Madisonian institutions to the Trumanite network has been fueled by a sense of emergency deriving from crisis, deriving from fear. It's fear of terrorism more than anything else that causes the American people to increasingly be willing to dispense with constitutional safeguards to ensure their safety.

Madison believed that government has two great objects. One object of a constitution is to enable the government to protect the people, specifically from external attacks. The other great object of a constitution is to protect the people from the government. The better able the government is to protect the people from external threats, the greater the threat posed by the government to the people.

You've been involved with the U.S. government for 40 years. How has your view of government changed?

Double government was certainly a factor in the 1970s, but it was challenged for the first time thanks to the activism stemming from the civil rights movement, Vietnam and Watergate. As a result, there were individuals in Congress—Democrats and Republicans like William Fulbright, Frank Church, Jacob Javits, Charles Mathias and many others—who were willing to stand up and insist upon adherence to constitutionally ordained principles. That led to a wave of activism and to the enactment of a number of pieces of reform legislation.

But there is no final victory in Washington. Those reforms have gradually been eaten away and turned aside. I think today we are in many ways right back where we were in the early 1970s. NSA surveillance is an example of that. The Church Committee uncovered something called Operation Shamrock, in which the NSA had assembled a watch list of antiwar and civil rights activists based upon domestic surveillance. Church warned at the time that NSA capabilities were so awesome that if they were ever turned inward on the American people, this nation would cross an abyss from which there is no return. The question is whether we have recently crossed that abyss.

To what degree are we still a functioning democracy? I'm sure you know that President Jimmy Carter told a German reporter last year that he thought we no longer qualified as a democracy because of our domestic surveillance.

We are clearly on the path to autocracy, and you can argue about how far we are down that path. But there's no question that if we continue on that path, America's constitutionally established institutions—Congress, the courts and the presidency—will ultimately end up like Britain's House of Lords and monarchy, namely as institutional museum pieces.

Bruce Morgan can be reached at bruce.morgan@tufts.ed

Here is how Christopher Bellavita in Homeland Security Watch summarize an interesting discussion at Cato think tank which I highly recommend to watch:

Why has American national security policy changed so little from the Bush administration to the Obama

That’s the question Michael J. Glennon asks in his book “National Security and Double Government.”

His answer: national security policy is determined largely by “the several hundred managers of the military, intelligence, diplomatic, and law enforcement agencies who are responsible for protecting the nation and who have come to operate largely immune from constitutional and electoral restraints.” The president, congress and the courts play largely a symbolic role in national security policy, Glennon claims.

You can read a Harvard National Security Journal article that outlines Glennon’s argument at this link:  The paper is not an especially easy read, but I found it to be well researched and – for  me – persuasive.

His book adds more analysis to the argument, using (from Graham Allison’s Essence of Decision) the rational actor model, the government politics model, and the organizational behavior model. Glennon extends that framework by discussing culture, networks, and the myth of alternative competing hypotheses.  The book is richer, in my opinion.  But the core of Glennon’s position is in the paper.

This link takes you to a video of Glennon talking about his book at the Cato Institute: (the talk starts at the 5:20 mark).

From the Cato site:

In National Security and Double Government, Michael Glennon examines the continuity in U.S. national security policy from the Bush administration to the Obama administration. Glennon explains the lack of change by pointing to the enervation of America’s “Madisonian institutions,” namely, the Congress, the presidency, and the courts. In Glennon’s view, these institutions have been supplanted by a “Trumanite network” of bureaucrats who make up the permanent national security state. National security policymaking has been removed from public view and largely insulated from law and politics. Glennon warns that leaving security policy in the hands of the Trumanite network threatens Americans’ liberties and the republican form of government.

Some blurb reviews:

I’ve spoken to three people I consider to be members of the “shadow national security state.”   One person said Glennon’s argument is nothing new.  The second told me he’s got it exactly right.  The third said it’s even worse.

Professor Peter Dale Scott book and articles

If Michael Glennon conceded defeat, but still has some hope, here we enter perfect Dante hell picture along the lines "Leave all hopes those who dare to enter"

Professor Peter Dale Scott book and article represent probably the most comprehensive coverage, especially his book. But the article in the Asia-Pacific journal represents fair summary of his views on the subject (The State, the Deep State, and the Wall Street Overworld (Updated March 13, 2014):

In the last decade it has become more and more obvious that we have in America today what the journalists Dana Priest and William Arkin have called

two governments: the one its citizens were familiar with, operated more or less in the open: the other a parallel top secret government whose parts had mushroomed in less than a decade into a gigantic, sprawling universe of its own, visible to only a carefully vetted cadre – and its entirety…visible only to God.1

And in 2013, particularly after the military return to power in Egypt, more and more authors referred to this second level as America’s “deep state.”2 Here for example is the Republican analyst Mike Lofgren:

There is the visible government situated around the Mall in Washington, and then there is another, more shadowy, more indefinable government that is not explained in Civics 101 or observable to tourists at the White House or the Capitol. The former is traditional Washington partisan politics: the tip of the iceberg that a public watching C-SPAN sees daily and which is theoretically controllable via elections. The subsurface part of the iceberg I shall call the Deep State, which operates according to its own compass heading regardless of who is formally in power.3

At the end of 2013 a New York Times Op-Ed noted this trend, and even offered a definition of the term that will work for the purposes of this essay:

DEEP STATE n. A hard-to-perceive level of government or super-control that exists regardless of elections and that may thwart popular movements or radical change. Some have said that Egypt is being manipulated by its deep state.4

The political activities of the deep state are the chief source and milieu of what I have elsewhere called “deep politics:” “all those political practices and arrangements, deliberate or not, which are usually repressed rather than acknowledged.”5

Others, like Tom Hayden, call the deep state a “state within the state,” and suggest it may be responsible for the failure of the Obama administration to follow the policy guidelines of the president’s speeches:

We have seen evidence of a "state within the state" before, going back as far as the CIA's operations against Cuba. In Obama's time, the president correctly named the 2009 coup in Honduras a "coup", and then seemed powerless to prevent it.6

This development of a two-level or dual state has been paralleled by two other dualities: the increasing resolution of American society into two classes – the “one percent” and the “ninety-nine percent” – and the bifurcation of the U.S. economy into two aspects: the domestic, still subject to some governmental regulation and taxation, and the international, relatively free from governmental controls.7 All three developments have affected and intensified each other – particularly since the Reagan Revolution of 1980, which saw American inequality of wealth cease to diminish and begin to increase.8 Thus for example we shall see how Wall Street – the incarnation of the “one percent” – played a significant role in increasing the deep state after World War Two, and how three decades later the deep state played a significant role in realigning America for the Reagan Revolution.

In earlier books I have given versions of this America-centered account of America’s shift into empire and a deep state. But another factor to be mentioned is the shift of global history towards an increasingly global society dominated by a few emergent superpowers. This trend was accelerated after the Industrial Revolution by new technologies of transport, from the railroad in the 19th century to the jet plane and space travel in the 20th.9

In the fallout from this rearrangement we must include two world wars, as a result of which Britain ceased to act as the dominant superpower it had been since Napoleon. Not surprisingly, the Soviet Union and the United States subsequently competed in a Cold War to fill the gap. It  was not however predetermined that the Cold War would be as thuggish and covertly violent as for decades it continued to be. For that we should look to more contingent causes on both sides of the Iron Curtain – starting with the character of Stalin and his party but also including the partly responsive development of the American deep state.

The Deep State, The Shadow Government and the Wall Street Overworld

The “deep state” was defined by the UK newsletter On Religion as “the embedded anti-democratic power structures within a government, something very few democracies can claim to be free from.”10 The term originated in Turkey in 1996, to refer to U.S.-backed elements, primarily in the intelligence services and military, who had repeatedly used violence to interfere with and realign Turkey’s democratic political process. Sometimes the definition is restricted to elements within the government (or “a state-within-the state”), but more often in Turkey the term is expanded, for historical reasons, to include “members of the Turkish underworld.”11 In this essay I shall use “deep state” in the larger sense, to include both the second level of secret government inside Washington and those outsiders powerful enough, in either the underworld or overworld, to give it direction. In short I shall equate the term “deep state” with what in 1993 I termed a “deep political system:” “ one which habitually resorts to decision-making and enforcement procedures outside as well as inside those publicly sanctioned by law and society.”12

Like myself, Lofgren suggests an ambiguous symbiosis between two aspects of the American deep state:

1)  the Beltway agencies of the shadow government, like the CIA and NSA, which have been instituted by the public state and now overshadow it, and

2)  the much older power of Wall Street, referring to the powerful banks and law firms located there.

In his words,

It is not too much to say that Wall Street may be the ultimate owner of the Deep State and its strategies, if for no other reason than that it has the money to reward government operatives with a second career that is lucrative beyond the dreams of avarice - certainly beyond the dreams of a salaried government employee.13

I shall argue that in the 1950s Wall Street was a dominating complex. It included not just banks and oil firms but also the oil majors whose cartel arrangements were successfully defended against the U.S. Government by the Wall Street law firm Sullivan and Cromwell, home to the Dulles brothers. This larger complex is what I mean by the Wall Street overworld.

The Long History of the Wall Street Overworld

Lofgren’s inclusion of Wall Street is in keeping with Franklin Roosevelt’s observation in 1933 to his friend Col. E.M. House that “The real truth … is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the larger centers has owned the Government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson.”14

FDR’s insight is well illustrated by the efficiency with which a group of Wall Street bankers (including Nelson Rockefeller’s grandfather Nelson Aldrich and Paul Warburg) were able in a highly secret meeting in 1910 to establish the Federal Reserve System – a system which in effect reserved oversight of the nation’s currency supply and of all America’s banks in the not impartial hands of its largest.15 The political clout of the quasi-governmental Federal Reserve Board (where the federal Treasury is represented but does not dominate) was clearly demonstrated in 2008, when Fed leadership secured instant support from the successive administrations of a Texan Republican president, followed by a Midwest Democratic one, for public money to rescue the reckless management of Wall Street banks: banks Too Big To Fail, and of course far Too Big To Jail, but not Too Big To Bail.16

Wall Street and the Launching of the CIA

Top-level Treasury officials, CIA officers, and Wall Street bankers and lawyers think alike because of the “revolving door” by which they pass easily from private to public service and back. In 1946 General Vandenberg, as Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), recruited Allen Dulles, then a Republican lawyer at Sullivan and Cromwell in New York, "to draft proposals for the shape and organization of what was to become the Central Intelligence Agency in 1947." Dulles promptly formed an advisory group of six men, all but one of whom were Wall Street investment bankers or lawyers.17 Dulles and two of the six (William H. Jackson and Frank Wisner) later joined the agency, where Dulles proceeded to orchestrate policies, such as the overthrow of the Arbenz regime in Guatemala, that he had previously discussed in New York at the Council on Foreign Relations.18

There seems to be little difference in Allen Dulles’s influence whether he was a Wall Street lawyer or a CIA director. Although he did not formally join the CIA until November 1950, he was in Berlin before the start of the 1948 Berlin Blockade, “supervising the unleashing of anti-Soviet propaganda across Europe.”19 In the early summer of 1948 he set up the American Committee for a United Europe (ACUE), support of what became by the early 1950s “the largest CIA operation in Western Europe.”20

The Deep State and Funds for CIA Covert Operations

Wall Street was also the inspiration for what eventually became the CIA’s first covert operation: the use of “over $10 million in captured Axis funds to influence the [Italian] election [of 1948].”21 (The fundraising had begun at the wealthy Brook Club in New York; but Allen Dulles, still a Wall Street lawyer, persuaded Washington, which at first had preferred a private funding campaign, to authorize the operation through the National Security Council and the CIA.)22

Dulles’s friend Frank Wisner then left Wall Street to oversee an enlarged covert operations program through the newly created Office of Policy Co-ordination (OPC). Dulles, still a lawyer, campaigned successfully to reconstruct Western Europe through what became known as the Marshall Plan.23 Together with George Kennan and James Forrestal, Dulles also “helped devise a secret codicil [to the Marshall Plan] that gave the CIA the capability to conduct political warfare. It let the agency skim millions of dollars from the plan.”24

This created one of the earlier occasions when the CIA, directly or indirectly, recruited local assets involved in drug trafficking. AFL member Irving Brown, the assistant of AFL official Jay Lovestone (a CIA asset), was implicated in drug smuggling activities in Europe, at the same time that he used funds diverted from the Marshall Plan to establish

a "compatible left" labor union in Marseilles with Pierre Ferri-Pisani. On behalf of Brown and the CIA, Ferri-Pisani (a drug smuggler connected with Marseilles crime lord Antoine Guerini), hired goons to shellack striking Communist dock workers.25

An analogous funding source for the CIA developed in the Far East: the so-called

"M-Fund," a secret fund of money of enormous size that has existed in Japan [in 1991] for more than forty years. The Fund was established by the United States in the immediate postwar era for essentially the same reasons that later gave rise to the Marshall Plan of assistance by the U.S. to Western Europe, including the Federal Republic of Germany….. The M-Fund was used not only for the building of a democratic political system in Japan but, in addition, for all of the purposes for which Marshall Plan funds were used in Europe.26

For at least two decades the CIA lavishly subsidized right-wing parties in countries including Japan and Indonesia, possibly still using captured Axis funds.27 (One frequently encounters the claim that the source of the M-fund was gold looted by Japan during World War Two (“Yamashita’s gold”).28

As a general rule the CIA, rather than assimilating these funds into its own budget, appears to have left them off the books in the hands of cooperative allied powers – ranging from other U.S. agencies like the Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA. set up in 1948 to administer the Marshall Plan) to oil companies to powerful drug kingpins.29

The CIA never abandoned its dependency on funds from outside its official budget to conduct its clandestine operations. In Southeast Asia, in particular, its proprietary firm Sea Supply Inc., supplied an infrastructure for a drug traffic supporting a CIA-led paramilitary force, PARU.30 The CIA appears also to have acted in coordination with slush funds from various U.S. government contracts, ranging from the Howard Hughes organization to (as we shall see) the foreign arms sales of U.S. defense corporations like Lockheed and Northrop.31

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