Notes on the Deep State

Please Note: As observed by Ernst Wolff and others,The Deep State is a Thing of the Past, having exploded in recent years into the "digital-financial complex" which is a global power providing a "second, unseen supra government" that operates above the observable government and its "deep state" operatives.

This said, the following "deep state" discussion still provides important context as to how we got to where we are. All of which underscores the long resisted fact that "The time is ripe for a democratic system of money and governance."

The Continuity of Government (COG) was discussed as one aspect of the shadow government in The Two Faces of Money, which was published in 2007. Since that time, another crucially important element of the shadow government known as the "Deep State" has come under scrutiny.

Attorney and author John Whitehead suggests that Senator William Jenner, in a 1954 speech, was among the first public figures to give a face to the shadow government which he said was “unaffected by elections, unaltered by populist movements and beyond the reach of law – a corporatized, militarized, entrenched bureaucracy that is fully operational and staffed by unelected officials who are, in essence, running the country. . .”

Whitehead says the Deep State is comprised of unelected government bureaucrats, corporations, contractors, paper-pushers, and button-pushers who are actually calling the shots behind the scenes. This government within a government is the real reason “we the people” have no real control over our government, making a mockery of elections and the entire concept of a representative government. . .

Whitehead adds that the Deep State includes "the militarized police, which have joined forces with state and federal law enforcement agencies in order to establish themselves as a standing army. It’s the fusion centers and spy agencies that have created a surveillance state and turned all of us into suspects. It’s the courthouses and prisons that have allowed corporate profits to take precedence over due process and justice. It’s the military empire with its private contractors and defense industry that is bankrupting the nation. It’s the private sector with its 854,000 contract personnel with top-secret clearances, a number greater than that of top-secret-cleared civilian employees of the government. It’s what former congressional staffer Mike Lofgren refers to as 'a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies': the Department of Defense, the State Department, Homeland Security, the CIA, the Justice Department, the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President via the National Security Council, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a handful of vital federal trial courts, and members of the defense and intelligence committees."

While Whitehead maintains that we are dealing with two shadow governments, one being COG or Continuity of Government and the other being the Deep State, CIA whistleblower Kevin Shipp, host of the online podcast The Intelligence Hour, contends that the Deep State is an entity functioning within the shadow government. From this perspective, COG would be a second element, along with the Deep State, of the larger shadow government.

Shipp explains the difference between what he calls the shadow government and the Deep State this way: The Deep State functions in the same matrix connected to the shadow government, but much of the time the shadow government rules the Deep State through the power of secrecy. The Deep State is fueled by money, power and greed. The shadow government is fueled by fear and intimidation. Both are funded by Wall Street. Shipp contends that not only is Wall Street part of the Deep State, but that it and the Treasury Department have in effect become business partners who utilize offshore accounts in the conduct of their business.

Former military analyst for the pentagon Chuck Spinney dispels notions of “sinister conspiracies” as the primary force behind the deep state by describing what is actually behind this phenomenon. In a forward to a 2014 article entitled Anatomy of a Deep State by former GOP Congressional staffer Mike Lofgren, Spinney writes. . .

The idea of the American Deep State is that there exists a hidden political system that controls the three branches of our nation’s formal political system. This idea naturally conjures images of sinister conspiracies in smoke-filled rooms, spooks in the CIA running wild, NSA spying on all American citizens, and so forth . . .
The reality is more banal, but at once more frightening and dangerous.
To be sure, there are elements of conspiracy in the emerging American Deep State, but it is a more ordinary consequence of how the contemporary American political economy handles with the question of money: Where the money comes from and where it goes?
Political decisions shaping the flow of money lie at the heart of the American Deep State.  Follow the money and you can answer the questions — the who, what, where, where, why, and how — surrounding the decisions shaping the behavior of the overt government and the shadow government behind it.   The gradual accretion of the hidden decision-making power shaping the money flows throughout the American political economy makes it a far more dangerous threat to the Constitutional system of checks and balances than the conspiracy theories flooding the internet.   

In a 2014 Bill Moyers interview Mike Lofgren himself talked about what he calls the Deep State, a hybrid of corporate America and the national security state, which is “out of control” and “unconstrained.” Within the Deep State elected and unelected figures collude to protect and serve powerful vested interests. “It is," said Lofgren, "the red thread that runs through the history of the last three decades. It is how we had deregulation, financialization of the economy, the Wall Street bust, the erosion or our civil liberties and perpetual war.” Lofgren says the Deep State’s heart lies in Washington, DC, but its tentacles reach out to Wall Street, which Lofgren describes as “the ultimate backstop to the whole operation,” Silicon Valley and over 400,000 contractors, private citizens who have top-secret security clearances. Like any other bureaucracy, it’s groupthink that drives the Deep State."

Two years later, in 2016, Spinney provides additional insight into Lofgren’s revelations on the Deep State, including Lofgren’s newly released book called simply Deep State, in an article entitled Deconstructing the Deep State.

Lofgren’s analysis centers on how the looting operations of three mutually reinforcing “pillars” (my word) of the contemporary American Deep State evolved over time. These “pillars” are themselves self-organizing groupings of coincident interests that work to insensibly co-opt and exploit the fissures in the mechanistic distribution of power designed into the Constitution by James Madison.
These emergent groupings form what some essayists have called an “iron triangle” of capitalists in the private sector and professional bureaucrats as well as elected officials in the legislative and executive branches of government, as well as in the menageries inhabited by hangers on, wannabees, journalists, and parasites feeding off the triangular host.
These triangles are energized by money flows and influence peddling, and their operations are lubricated by a maze of revolving doors that enable the individual players to climb the greasy pole to power and riches by moving freely back and forth from one corner to another, all the while pumping the money and propaganda needed by the triangle to survive and grow, on its own terms!
Lofgren’s analysis takes us around three triangles by examining the maze of living relationships making up (1) the triangular money pumping operations of the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex, as well as the more subtle looting and power grabbing operations, (2) the de-regulating scams of Big Finance and (3) the big-brother spying operations of the pseudo-libertarian hyper-capitalists of Silicon Valley.
To be sure, there are many other iron triangles that Lofgren does not discuss in great detail (e.g., Big Pharma, Big AG and the food supply, etc.), but his story is clear enough and sufficiently broad enough to make the larger argument.
But there is more. Lofgren explains how the more obvious idea of an iron triangle is only the inner core of a far-reaching web of interests. This web includes, inter alia, the machinations of lobbyists, think tanks, political action committees (PACs), universities, pseudo intellectuals and ideologues, establishment promoting pundits in the fourth estate, tax deductible foundations, and behind them, the deep pockets of the secretive billionaire oligarchs, who have had their influence unleashed by the recent decisions of the Supreme Court.
The blood giving life to the inner and outer aspects of this pulsating web of non-democratic power and influence is MONEY, which the Supreme Court in its Citizens United Decision legitimated as a form of free speech protected by the First Amendment. . . .