Deep State

God, we live in interesting times!

On one hand, we have ongoing revelations from whistleblower, Edward Snowden, detailing a massive surveillance state, determined to spy on everyone, American citizens included. “Collect it all,” is the motto of NSA chief, General Keith Alexander.

On the other hand, is the recent story of General Alexander’s high tech spy HQ with a central control room designed to be a replica of the bridge of the Enterprise from Star Trek.

 “…known as the Information Dominance Center. It had been designed by a Hollywood set designer to mimic the bridge of the starship Enterprise from Star Trek, complete with chrome panels, computer stations, a huge TV monitor on the forward wall, and doors that made a ‘whoosh’ sound when they slid open and closed. Lawmakers and other important officials took turns sitting in a leather ‘captain’s chair’ in the center of the room and watched as Alexander, a lover of science-fiction movies, showed off his data tools on the big screen.”

Megalomania, anyone? As they say, you can’t make this shit up.

If C. Wright Mills were still alive he would marvel. In 1956, Mills, a prominent sociologist, wrote The Power Elite, the controversial study of the vast concentration of power that had formed in the post war era. Mills described three dominant institutions in the US–the military, the corporations and the government, with an overlap between them.
“A long tradition of sociological research documents the existence of a dominant ruling class in the United States, whose members set policy and determine national political priorities. The American ruling class is complex and competitive, and perpetuates itself through interacting families of high social standing with similar lifestyles, corporate affiliations, and memberships in elite social clubs and private schools.”

These powerful constituencies comprise what President Eisenhower warned us about in his farewell address–the military/industrial complex.

Whether Mill’s recognized it or not, historical evidence has demonstrated that during World War II, this power elite determined that the United States was to replace Great Britain as the most powerful imperialist state. The Cold War with the Soviet Union was a pretext to justify a uniquely American empire.

With the demise of the Soviet Union, and especially since 9-11, the power elite in the US has united in support of a long war against a shifting cast of villains—typically dubbed terrorists. This war on terror is a pretext to maintain a worldwide empire, like the Cold War was. Examining the evidence, it is clear that the war on terror is really about controlling oil and gas, maintaining corporate profits, and projecting financial capital into every corner of the world.

There is a shadowy, secretive, very undemocratic aspect to the maintainance of empire. The Snowden revelations have made it abundantly clear that US intelligence agencies have amassed a vast amount of power through their ability to spy on everyone. The potential for blackmail is off the charts. Especially since private contractors perform 60 % of the spy agencies’ work. Remember that Snowden was working for Booz Allen Hamilton when he was able to access and copy the crown jewels of American intelligence.

Writer Gaius Publius, raises some provocative questions about this turn of events.

“Is the upper echelon of the intelligence community running the country? The ‘deep state’ is the part that can’t be touched by the political process. Does Gen. Alexander help run it? If I had to give my own best guess, I’d say — add the ‘upper echelon billionaires’  to the intel guys, and you’ve probably listed everyone who counts as someone with a say in what happens when.”

In Turkey, they describe the deep state as a merging of the power elite with a shadowy class of criminals that rules the country.

Is that what we have in America?

My feeling, is that the deep state resides within the executive branch, where the CIA, JSOC, NSA, and all the other intelligence and para-military outfits operate. We have 17 intelligence agencies. Think about that for a minute. Seventeen. In addition to spying, these secretive military and intelligence operatives have engaged in a worldwide campaign of kidnap, torture and assassination.

“The U.S. Executive Branch agencies that conduct U.S. foreign military and domestic police operations – the White House, National Security Council, Pentagon, CIA, Departments of State, Defense and Homeland Security, National Security Agency and FBI – have an overall budget of well over $1 trillion, employ 3-4 million people, and spend more money on the military than the next 10 nations combined.”

Our status as the most powerful empire that ever existed drives these policies. Sometimes our rulers even admit this. In the heady days after invasion of Iraq, Karl Rove informed reporter Ron Suskind that:

“We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

And, like president Bush before him, President Obama continues to fiercely defend the U.S. global empire.

“He basically came out and said the United States is an imperialist nation and we are going to do whatever we need to conquer areas to take resources from around the world. I mean, it was a really naked sort of declaration of imperialism…” 

None of this is a conspiracy. One can find documents laying out the justification for this American empire. During the Truman Administration the National Security Council issued one such document–NSC 68– that describes in chilling detail our manifest duty to control the world. 

“You cannot understand the political realities of post-WWII America without understanding the deep state and its mission...The deep state has been revealed over and over again with single bits of evidence and patterns of conduct. There is no way a reasonable person cannot come to the conclusion that the deep state exists–just looking at the consistency of U.S. foreign policy despite very different Presidents.”

If we are going to end this deep state we are going to need a coalition of liberals and conservatives, opposed to runaway executive power. This quasi-monarch astride a vast surveillance state is most certainly not what our founders envisioned.

The unprecedented coalition of liberals/progressives and conservatives/Tea Partiers which on July 24 almost passed a bill forbidding NSA spying on innocent Americans has offered the only hope that the U.S. Executive Branch’s danger to democracy can be challenged.

Stay tuned.

Update: Glenn Greenwald–much more NSA revelations to come.

 “For Greenwald — and rightly so — the question of surveillance gets to the heart of shadowy operations of governmentality and control.”

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