Out of the shadows


After 70 years of anonymity the deep state has fully emerged from the shadows.

In the wake of the surprise resignation of Trump’s national-security-advisor, Michael Flynn,  stories about the deep state are everywhere, from the New York Times, to Naked Capitalism, to the floor of the Senate.

Described by Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, “an amazing battle for dominance is playing out between the elected US government and the intelligence community that considers itself to be the “permanent government. The Flynn ouster was the result of a destabilization campaign by US spies, Democrats and press”.

I have watched in utter dismay the way that liberals have turned on a dime from their traditional distrust of the Military/Intelligence/Industrial/Complex to fervent embrace, all in the name of opposing Donald Trump.

According to investigative reporter Robert Parry, “Democrats, liberals and media pundits – in their rush to take down President Trump – are pushing a New McCarthyism aimed at Americans who have talked to Russians, risking a new witch hunt.”

The Democratic party, under Barak Obama, suffered historic losses and has been struggling to reinvent itself. Indeed, there is an ongoing battle between left-wing activists who supported Bernie Sanders, and party stalwarts who backed Hillary Clinton. The party stalwarts are desperate to maintain control of the party and its valuable corporate donor network. Rather than addressing fundamental problems with messaging and voter registration, they would rather blame the Russians for Trump’s election.

I’ve said before that one of the positives from a Trump presidency was that he appeared to want better relation with Russia.

Now, with the Democratic embrace of the deep state as a means to oppose Trump, this rapprochement is very much in doubt.

Parry says that this embrace is a very dangerous gambit. “That Democrats and liberals who hold the McCarthy era in understandable disdain would now seek to rekindle something similar reeks of rank opportunism and gross hypocrisy – doing whatever it takes to “get Trump” and build an activist movement that can revive the Democratic Party’s flagging political hopes.

But this particular opportunism and hypocrisy also carries with it the prospect of blindly ramping up tensions with Russia, diverting more taxpayer money into the Military-Industrial Complex and conceivably sparking – whether planned or unplanned – a nuclear Armageddon that could eliminate life on the planet. Perhaps this anti-Trump strategy should be rethought.”

Within this nexus of stories there is pushback to the very concept of an American deep state.

Zeynep Tufekci, a Turkish sociologist and writer at the University of North Carolina, tweeted a string of criticisms about the analogy Friday morning. “Permanent bureaucracy and/or non-electoral institutions diverging with the electoral branch [is] not that uncommon even in liberal democracies,” she wrote. “In the Turkey case, that’s not what it means. There was a shadowy, cross-institution occasionally *armed* network conducting killings, etc. So, if people are going to call non electoral institutions stepping up leaking stuff, fine. But it is not ‘deep state’ like in Turkey.”

Author Douglas Valentine would sharply disagree with Tufekci’s description of the American deep state as “permanent bureaucracy”. Making the key observation that the CIA is the central actor in the deep state, Valentine’s new book, The CIA as Organized Crime: How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World, connects the CIA with the war on drugs and shows how the agency has used drugs as part of its nefarious activities since its inception. Valentine examines the practices of the CIA, skillfully making the connection between it and the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN). From the beginning of the Cold War to the 1960s, FBN director Harry Anslinger, in a desperate bid to outflank the FBI, entered into a “suicidal” relationship with the CIA. Going further, Valentine exposes the close relationship between organized crime and US intelligence, paying close attention to the way in which the CIA used drugs as a weapon to turn foreign agents and supply funds to anti-communist organizations. His account of MKULTRA–the CIA experiment with LSD–is fascinating. Exploring the deep politics of the US, Valentine explores the hidden roots of the early war on narcotics and proves that foreign policy considerations of the deep state always trumped public health.

Valentine also shows how the corporate media has a symbiotic relationship with CIA, and how this relationship skews American knowledge and understanding of the deep state.

“The media organizes itself the way the CIA does. The CIA has case officers running around the world, engaged in murder and mayhem, and the media has reporters covering them. The reporter and the case officer both have bosses, and the higher you get in each organization, the closer the bosses become. The ideological guidelines get more restrictive the higher up you go. To join the CIA, you have to pass a psychological assessment test. They’re not going to hire anybody who is sympathetic towards poor people. These are ruthless people who serve capitalist bosses. They’re very rightwing, and the media’s job is to protect them. Editors only hire reporters who are ideologically pure, just like you can’t get into the CIA if you’re a Communist or think the CIA should obey the law.

In my opinion, the sudden emergence of the deep state and stories about its affairs are part of a limited-hangout, where when they can “no longer rely on a phony cover story to misinform the public, they resort to admitting—sometimes even volunteering—some of the truth while still managing to withhold the key and damaging facts in the case.”

These stories also elide a larger question: Why in a supposed democratic republic does our elite manage a deep state that is largely unaccountable to we the people?

Perhaps the formulation and existence of an American deep state was articulated most honestly at the Constitutional convention by John Jay–“Those who own the country ought to govern it.”

Update: Gareth Porter demonstrates how the deep state mobilized against Trump’s Russian detente.

“But Trump’s appears to have underestimated the ambitions of the leakers. The campaign against Flynn had been calculated in part to weaken the Trump administration and ensure that the new administration would not dare to reverse the hardline policy of constant pressure on Putin’s Russia.

Many in Washington’s political elite celebrated the fall of Flynn as a turning point in the struggle to maintain the existing policy orientation toward Russia. The day after Flynn was fired the Post’s national political correspondent, James Hohmann, wrote that the Flynn “imbroglio” would now make it “politically untenable for Trump to scale back sanctions to Moscow” because the “political blowback from hawkish Republicans in Congress would be too intense….”

But the ultimate target of the campaign was Trump himself. As neoconservative journalist Eli Lake put it, “Flynn is only the appetizer. Trump is the entree.”’



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