Two years ago, Mike Lofgren wrote an essay that appeared on Bill Moyers' Moyers and Company website. In his essay (which is now a book that you can find here) entitled "Anatomy of the Deep State", Mr. Lofgren examines the government that we can't see; the government that we, as voters, can't control and the government that we didn't learn about in school. For those of you that are unfamiliar with Mr. Lofgren, prior to his retirement in 2011, he was a three decade-long Congressional employee, specializing in national security and holding a top secret security clearance as well as being a senior analyst on the House and Senate Budget committees.
All that most Americans see of their government is the partisan gridlock that exists in Washington; no matter what the Republicans do, the Democrats protest. No matter what the Democrats or the current President does, the Republicans protest. The mainstream media focuses on this dysfunction, repeatedly highlighting the fact that the Republicans will do everything in their power to control the current President until they regain control of the Oval Office, possibly in 2016. Despite the fact that President Obama appears to be hamstrung, he still holds great power including:
1.) the ability to conduct massive surveillance on American citizens without judicial warrant. This includes the building of a $1.7 billion facility in Utah that will allow the National Security Agency to store a yottabyte's worth of data, equivalent to 500 quintillion pages of text.
2.) detain prisoners without charge on an indefinite basis.
3.) kill certain American citizens without due process.
4.) launch a basically unfettered drone program against "terrorists" (and anyone else who happens to fall within the range of the drone's munitions).
5.) wage war (or what passes for war today) in Syria, Iraq and Libya.
Let's now take a look at the "other Washington", the one that we don't explicitly see. Here is a quote from the essay:
"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."
Mr. Lofgren goes on to define the Deep State as a hybrid of federal security and law enforcement agencies along with the private sector including federal contractors, Wall Street and the technology sector. Let's look at these in order:
1.) The hybrid of federal security and law enforcement agencies includes the following:
a.) The Central Intelligence Agency
b.) The Department of Homeland Security
c.) The Justice Department
d.) The Department of State
e.) The Department of Defense
As well, the Department of the Treasury is involved since it controls the money flows among the agencies as well as tying in to Wall Street where the real money lies. The mysterious and closed-to-public scrutiny Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is also included. What is not included is Congress which, for the most part, is either blissfully unaware of the Deep State by choice or by command from within the Deep State.
2.) The connection to private sector contractors:
Mr. Lofgren also goes on to note that the Deep State is not exclusively composed of government agencies. He notes that the private sector is heavily involved in the Deep State. As you can see in this graphic from the February 2014 Suitability and SecurityProcesses Review Report to the President, a report that was commissioned by the President after the September 2013 Navy Yard shooting, a very significant number of government contract employees have both confidential/secret and top secret clearances:
According to a 2014 study by the Washington Post, close to 30 percent of the workforce in America's intelligence agencies are contractors. One company with very close ties to Washington and its intelligence community is Booz Allen, the former employer of Edward Snowden. Here is a screen capture from their website highlighting the company's ability to provide "situational awareness" to the Armed Forces so that they can "bring their brave warfighters home safely":
"At Booz Allen Hamilton, we help the federal government and corporations accomplish their most important work—work that protects our nation and drives our economy and society forward. Booz Allen’s Fiscal 2014 Annual Report, “Reaching Forward: Inventing the Future,” highlights examples of this work, which includes rapid prototyping of equipment to protect soldiers on the battlefield, the design of next-generation wireless military communications, the development of a system to expedite delivery of vaccines to children, and the innovative use of threat intelligence to reduce the risk of cyber attacks against major banks—and much more."
Here is another quote from their 2014 Annual Report showing how important government funding is to the company's finances:
"Substantially all of the Company’s revenue is derived from services and solutions provided to the U.S. government and its agencies, primarily by the Company’s consulting staff and, to a lesser extent, subcontractors. The Company generates its revenue from the following types of contractual arrangements: cost-reimbursable-plus-fee contracts, time-and-materials contracts, and xed-price contracts." (my bold)
Coincidentally (or not), the current Director of National Intelligence and former Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, James Clapper, is a former executive of Booz Allen.
3.) The connection to Wall Street:
As I noted above, Mr. Lofgren goes on to illuminate the close link between two nodes of the Deep State; Washington and Wall Street. Here is a graphic from Open Secrets showing how much the securities andinvestment industry spends on lobbying Washington by year:
Here is a graphic showing how much this sector has donated to the current election cycle:
Here is a graphic showing how much this sector has contributed over each election cycle since 1990:
Since 2012, the securities and investment industry has been the largest single source of political contributions, hitting $283 million in the 2012 cycle. Further connecting the two nodes, we have the appointment of retired General David Petraeus as the Chairman of KKR's Global Institute. KKR (or Kohlberg Kravis Roberts), is a global investment firm that manages $98.7 billion in assets for the wealthiest of Americans. We must also remember that General Petraeus also served as the Director of the CIA.
4.) The connection to Silicon Valley:
This connection became apparent after the revelations of Edward Snowden. As we now know, Silicon Valley has been tracking the spending habits, geographic locations and other activities of its customer base for years. While the recent headline Apple iPhone/San Bernardino case has led us to believe that Silicon Valley and the tech sector are not co-operating with the Deep State, in fact, an analysis by Electronic Frontier Foundation would suggest otherwise in some cases:
As we can see from this essay by Michael Lofgren, the invisible Deep State is firmly entrenched in the United States. While the publicly visible federal government in Washington is nominally in charge and seemingly always in a state of disunity, there is a deeper, more frightening unelected group that pulls the strings of government and controls the current state of the nation. While American voters are distracted by what I term "bubblegum for the brain" (i.e. lotteries, reality television and infotainment), a relatively small group of unelected Americans and oligarchs act as the puppeteers for those that actually get our vote.
Let's close this posting with a final quote from Mr. Lofgren's essay:
"We are faced with two disagreeable implications. First, 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. Second, that just as in so many previous empires, the Deep State is populated with those whose instinctive reaction to the failure of their policies is to double down on those very policies in the future. Iraq was a failure briefly camouflaged by the wholly propagandistic success of the so-called surge; this legerdemain allowed for the surge in Afghanistan, which equally came to naught. Undeterred by that failure, the functionaries of the Deep State plunged into Libya; the smoking rubble of the Benghazi consulate, rather than discouraging further misadventure, seemed merely to incite the itch to bomb Syria. Will the Deep State ride on the back of the American people from failure to failure until the country itself, despite its huge reserves of human and material capital, is slowly exhausted? The dusty road of empire is strewn with the bones of former great powers that exhausted themselves in like manner."
Sadly, if Mr. Lofgren is right, you can vote for whoever you wish, it likely makes very little difference.
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