Thursday, February 2, 2017

Deep State USA, Third Millennium

(This is the third post in a four part sequence.  The other posts are dated January 23,2017, January 25, 2017 and February 13, 2017)

The second opportunity for a Deep State to develop in the United States came following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., which succeeded spectacularly and prompted a grotesque and theatrical overreaction that has weakened the United States behind comprehension.  Making possibly every mistake in the book, the American security apparatus learned and adapted to the new situation, but the political class did not absorb the lessons (at least until the Obama Administration, by which time the die was already cast).  Meanwhile, our nascent oligarchy tightened its grip on the political process and, well, little wars certainly have their benefits in that process.

But, to this point at least, it doesn't appear that the development of a Deep State has been one of the unintended consequences of the War on Terror (lovely phrase, right up there, and about as successful, as the War on Drugs or the War on Halitosis--how about a War on Stupid?).  My guess is that the searing experience of being publicly pilloried and humiliated in the 1970s resulted in the national security establishment developing an extremely rule-oriented, compliance-focused culture.  Having eschewed black ops and bought into technology based surveillance as a supplement or replacement for human assets in place, along with the forced retirement of the cowboys and colorful characters, the rise of the NSA at the expense of the CIA basically resulted in an orientation as far removed from the Deep State mindset as could be imagined.

I'd offer three pieces of factual support for this argument.  The first is the dispute over waterboarding--torture.  It has been cast in legal terms by all participants from the very beginning--except for McCain, the only guy in the debate to have been personally tortured, who kept climbing onto the moral high ground.  The rest of them keep talking about international treaty obligations, acting in reliance on legal opinions, etc.  This is not the language of a Deep State apparatus.  The second is the legal formalities and signoffs associated with drone strikes.  The whole targeting and operational procedure is about as far from 'plausible deniability' as can be imagined.  The final one is the bundle of issues associated with the detention facility at Guantanomo Bay.  Is it a prisoner of war camp?  Is it a prison facility?  Is it something in between?  Is it the tip of the iceberg--and how can you have a public debate about secret black prisons, anyway?  Again, this is not the gesalt of a Deep State.

So, no, no Deep State yet.  What we do have, though, are the cadres, situated in the security apparatus, who have developed the skills, tools and mindset that could be very effective in a Deep State construct.

And that's it for today.  The is one last installment, a concluding set of thoughts, but that's for later . . .

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