The recent election started me thinking about two questions:
- Given that It has been known by pretty much everyone since at least 2000 that Republicans can throw any election that’s close by rigging a few precincts in the same few swing states, why don’t the Democrats put a stop to it? The only person who tried to do something was Jill Stein, and Democrats didn’t support her. It looks as though Democrats want Republicans to win every few years. Why?
- Why is Obama, with the backing of pretty much everyone in both parties, picking on Russia? Even before they came up with the shaky claim about hacking, they were preparing for a war against Russia, known as ‘Operation Atlantic Resolve.’ Reportedly, the USA is currently sending the 3rd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division to the Russian border, and shipping more than 2,500 pieces of cargo to Germany. Meanwhile, NATO countries are also sending thousands of soldiers to Russian borders; apparently, the EU is complicit. At home, both Democrats and Republicans are stirring up war fever. Trump seems to be a holdout so far, but I imagine that he will cave to the pressure.
Crooked elections and wars with nuclear-armed countries are not supported by the base of either party, nor are they part of any party’s platform. Whose agenda are they serving?
I had been hearing, off and on, about the Deep State, so I Googled and found an essay from 2014 on Moyers & Company called Anatomy of the Deep State by former Congressional staffer Mike Lofgren.
He notes that, despite apparent Congressional gridlock, President Obama has been empowered to “liquidate American citizens without due processes, detain prisoners indefinitely without charge, conduct dragnet surveillance on the American people without judicial warrant and engage in unprecedented — at least since the McCarthy era — witch hunts against federal employees (the so-called “Insider Threat Program”). Within the United States, this power is characterized by massive displays of intimidating force by militarized federal, state and local law enforcement. Abroad, President Obama can start wars at will and engage in virtually any other activity whatsoever without so much as a by-your-leave from Congress…” Most Americans are unaware that the USA currently has American Special Operations Forces deployed to 70% of the countries in the world. In a few days, these powers will pass to Trump.
Why is this happening? Both the Democrats and Republicans will mutter something about “terrorism”—Al Qaeda or Isis or whoever is next—but that justification is wearing thin.
According to Lofgren, the interests being served are those of the Deep State, a state within a state, “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.” Logren concludes that “The Deep State is so heavily entrenched, so well protected by surveillance, firepower, money and its ability to co-opt resistance that it is almost impervious to change…”
Lofgren spells out in detail the composition of the Deep State in his essay; I will summarize it here.
The Deep State is a hybrid of government and “what is euphemistically called private enterprise.” The governmental part consists of national security and law enforcement agencies, the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President via the National Security Council, key areas of the judiciary, and parts of Congress—the leadership and “some (but not all) of the members of the defense and intelligence committees.” Regarding the “private enterprise” piece, Lofgren refers to a special series in The Washington Post called “Top Secret America,” by Dana Priest and William K. Arkin. According to them, there are 854,000 contract personnel with top-secret clearances — which is more than the number of top-secret-cleared civilian employees of the government. Reportedly, 70% of the intelligence community’s budget goes to paying contracts. They report that “the membrane between government and industry is highly permeable: The Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, is a former executive of Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the government’s largest intelligence contractors. His predecessor as director, Admiral Mike McConnell, is the current vice chairman of the same company; Booz Allen is 99 percent dependent on government business. These contractors now set the political and social tone of Washington, just as they are increasingly setting the direction of the country, but they are doing it quietly, their doings unrecorded in the Congressional Record or the Federal Register, and are rarely subject to congressional hearings.”
I think that the existence of the Deep State provides potential answers to both my questions:
- The Deep State is not interested in fair elections because it already controls both parties.
- The war agenda is likely also controlled by the Deep State, members of which profit from it in several ways: Not only do arms suppliers and others connected with the military industrial complex profit directly; but government employees and contractors can keep their jobs and expand their power if there are more wars.
This leads to a third question: What can we as citizens do about the situation, since our votes don’t seem to mean much? One thing we can do is work to reveal the truth and delegitimize the Deep State. Leakers like Snowden and Wikileaks are a big help. Protestors like Occupy and Black Lives Matter throw a monkey wrench into the machinery and disrupt business as usual. Reformers offer solutions: cut off the flow of money between corporations and politicians; support fair trade instead of free trade; change the tax policy to help citizens instead of crooks. It’s a long list, hard to achieve, and it needs support from all of us.