The Deep State is the Federal Bureaucracy. It matters not which Party, Republican or Democrat, the Bureaucracy, The Deep State, The Swamp is entrenched in power Presidents come and go but the Deep State is there forever.
As such the Bureaucracy, The Deep State, has been writing most of our legislation as Congress has acceded those duties that were rightfully theirs to them. Obamacare was written almost solely by bureaucrats.
The President’s Cabinet Heads and Associates of course are not part of the Deep State. But the rest of the bureaucracy who are Civil Servants cannot be dismissed and are rarely fired. So they live on in the tombs of government forever thumbing their noses at the wishes of their bosses. As long as the government keeps paying them a salary they will never leave. They depart when they die or retire with a healthy pension, only to be replaced by another Civil Servant who will be there forever.
This of course explains why there are so many people within the Trump Administration who are battling him. They are unremovable Civil Service emploees who do what they damn well please and if what they please does not match what the President wants…well they are just not going to go along.
The Deep State Is Real
But it might not be what you think.
At a conference in mid-July, Barack Obama’s CIA director, John Brennan, remarked that executive branch officials have an “obligation … to refuse to carry out” outrageous or anti-democratic orders from President Donald Trump. The comment quickly caught the attention of Rush Limbaugh, who saw nothing short of a threat to the republic. “He practically called for a coup!” the radio host bellowed on the air a few days later, warning of a plot orchestrated by “embeds in the deep state at the Pentagon, State Department, various intelligence agencies.”
Embeds in the what? A year ago, the term “deep state” was the province of Edward Snowden acolytes and fans of paperback espionage thrillers. Today, Limbaugh takes it for granted that his millions of listeners know what it meant.
The deep state entered America’s national discourse in 2017 with the feeling of an already familiar character, ready to assume a starring role as hero or villain—depending on how you feel about Trump. It’s easy to dismiss the idea as the breathless complaint of a frustrated president who hasn’t learned to work the system. But it’s not that simple: There really is a kind of cabal that operates independently of elected officials in Washington—even if it’s not quite what Trump or his conservative allies think it is.
Political scientists and foreign policy experts have used the term deep state for years to describe individuals and institutions who exercise power independent of—and sometimes over—civilian political leaders. They applied it mainly to developing countries like Algeria, Pakistan, Egypt and Turkey, where generals and spies called the real shots in nominally democratic societies and replaced elected leaders when they saw fit. (Turkey and Egypt have recently moved to more overt security-state dictatorships, in which the deep state is the only state.)
For a generation, the people who saw something like an American deep state—even if they rarely called it that—resided on the left, not the right. The 9/11 attacks triggered the rapid growth of an opaque security and intelligence machine often unaccountable to the civilian legal system. In the 2000s, the critique focused on a “war machine” of military and intelligence officials, defense contractors and neoconservative ideologues who, in some versions, took orders directly from Vice President Dick Cheney. In the Obama era, the focus shifted to the eerie precision of “targeted killings” by drones, and then the furor over Snowden, the ex-National Security Agency contractor whose 2013 leaks exposed the astonishing reach of the government’s surveillance. “There’s definitely a deep state,” Snowden told the Nation in 2014. “Trust me, I’ve been there.”
Even measured academics began to describe a dual-state system in the United States, the focus of Tufts University international law professor Michael J. Glennon’s 2014 book, National Security and Double Government. Glennon observed that Obama had campaigned against Bush-era surveillance and security policies in 2008 but acquiesced to many of them as president—suggesting a national-security apparatus that holds sway even over the elected leaders notionally in charge of it.
Enter Donald Trump. After January 2017, the unaccountable string-pulling bureaucracy suddenly came to seem, especially to liberals, less a sinister cabal than a crucial check on a president determined to blow up the system we had come to take for granted. Trump was openly hostile to much of the government he now ran, and its institutions began fighting back, sometimes in public ways. They did so with a combination of the severe (leaks of Trump’s conversations with foreign leaders) and the absurd (critical tweets from federal accounts like that of the National Park Service). To Trump and his allies, the new president is now the victim of conspiratorial bureaucrats threatened by a president trying to “drain the swamp.” In August, after Environmental Protection Agency employees alerted the New York Times to an EPA report on climate change they feared would be quashed, a headline at the conservative Breitbart News website shouted: “Deep State Teams with Fake News.” Even more anxiety swirls around classified information: In July, the Republican-led Senate Homeland Security Committee released a report that found the Trump administration was being hit by national security leaks “on a nearly daily basis” and at a far higher rate than its predecessors encountered. (After the report was picked up in the conservative media, Trump’s son Donald Jr. tweeted a link to it. “If there ever was confirmation that the Deep State is real, illegal & endangers national security, it’s this,” he wrote.)
Thus have the old battle lines flipped. Conservatives who once dismissed concerns about political abuse of NSA surveillance now complain about intelligence leaks linking Trump associates to the Kremlin; liberals who not long ago were denouncing the CIA for its unaccountable power have discovered new affection for the heroes at Langley who might uncover impeachment-worthy dirt.
Beneath the politics of convenience is the reality that a large segment of the U.S. government really does operate without much transparency or public scrutiny, and has abused its awesome powers in myriad ways. And sometimes the government bureaucracy really does exercise power over the commander in chief: Obama felt that the military pressured him into sending more troops to Afghanistan than he had wanted, while an inexperienced George W. Bush was arguably led to war by a bipartisan cadre of national security insiders who had long wanted to take out Saddam Hussein.
Even the Trump critique about the deep state in revolt, however exaggerated, is worth consideration. Hillary Clinton voters might delight in the classified material gushing forth about the president’s men—but its release can be criminal. (In May, Brennan called the intelligence leaks “appalling.”) Yes, the president could be covering up misdeeds of his own, raising thorny ends-and-means questions. But Trump haters should consider the precedent—and how they would feel if, say, a President Kamala Harris were to enter the White House in 2021 and be hobbled by a similar blizzard of leaks from intelligence officials who consider her soft on terrorism.
Whether any of this means there is a deep state in America depends on your definition. Powerful bureaucrats with access to government secrets and trusted media friends certainly do try to influence presidents from the shadows. But in Washington, at least, their views and goals are not monolithic. And unlike their counterparts in the developing world, they do tend to execute the orders they’re given by the president, however grudgingly—and are committed to upholding the rule of law.
Some of the subversion and leaks Trump has faced are merely federal employees defending their turf from budget cuts and bone-headed ideas. That’s far from the way the right-wing blogger Mike Cernovich described matters in August, when he told fellow conspiracy theorist and talk-radio host Alex Jones that the deep state would turn, literally, murderous: “Trump will be killed. … They’re going to kill us, they’re going to kill him, they’re going to kill everybody.”
For Trump, a man who has always defined himself against caricatured enemies, the deep state is a useful boogeyman that allows him to merge several disparate political targets—real, exaggerated and imagined—into a single villain he can use to rally his supporters. The media’s role is particularly crucial: When Fox News host Sean Hannity tweeted on June 16 that he would open his show that night with an examination of “the deep state’s allies in the media,” the president of the United States retweeted him. It’s not easy to make conservatives distrust law enforcement and intelligence officials, but showing them to be in league with snotty liberal reporters makes that possible.
And so, after Trump’s fired FBI director, James Comey, admitted in June that he had relayed accounts of his bizarre interactions with the president to a friend, who in turn shared them with a New York Times reporter, former Trump campaign manager Cory Lewandowski appeared on NBC and attacked Comey as “part of the deep state.” “He’s everything that’s wrong in Washington.” It was as clever as it was insidious. Americans might be foggy about what, exactly, the deep state really is. But Washington they know—and know they hate.
Politico, of curse, is not your moderate Conservative Site but one which leans leftward, so what they report has a bit of a different take that the Lexington Libertarian does. Still some of the material is informative.