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Both exist.  The interface between the public and private sectors of society need to be closely monitored, as the potential for nefarious ‘deep state’ activities is quite real.

 

(Rebecca Gordon writing for Tom’s Dispatch writes) “McLaughlin told National Public Radio’s Greg Myre and Rachel Treisman that he had received some “blowback” from his joke, and added:

“I think it’s a silly idea. There is no ‘deep state.’ What people think of as the ‘deep state’ is just the American civil service, social security, the people who fix the roads, health and human services, Medicare.”

I’ll give one cheer for that kind of deep state: not a secret, extra-official shadow government, but the actual workings of government itself for the benefit of the people it’s meant to serve. Personally, I’m all for people who devote their lives to making sure our food is as safe as possible, the cars we drive won’t kill us, our planes stay up in the air, and roads and railways are built and maintained to connect us, not to speak of having clean air and water, public schools and universities to educate our young people, and a social security system to provide a safety net for people of my age — all of which, by the way, is in danger from this president, his administration, and the Republican party.

But there’s another way of thinking about the deep state, one that suggests an ongoing threat not to Donald Trump and his pals but to this democracy and the world. I’m thinking, of course, of that vast — if informal, complex, and sometimes internally competitive — consortium composed of the industries and government branches that make up what President Dwight Eisenhower famously called the “military-industrial complex.” This was exactly the “state” that I think President Obama encountered when he decided to shut down the George W. Bush-era CIA torture program and found that the price for compliance was a promise not to prosecute anyone for crimes committed in the so-called war on terror. January 2009 was, as he famously said, a time to “look forward as opposed to looking backwards.”

Here is Mike Lofgren, a long-time civil servant and aide to many congressional Republicans, writing in 2014 about that national security machine for BillMoyers.com. In “Anatomy of the Deep State,” he described the power and reach of this apparatus in chilling terms:

“There is the visible government situated around the Mall in Washington, and then there is another, more shadowy, more indefinable government that is not explained in Civics 101 or observable to tourists at the White House or the Capitol…

“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.”

Lofgren was not describing “a secret, conspiratorial cabal.” Rather, he was arguing that “the state within a state is hiding mostly in plain sight, and its operators mainly act in the light of day.” This has certainly been the experience of those who have, in particular, opposed U.S. military adventures abroad. They discover that many of the lies, deceptions, and crimes of that “state within a state” are openly there for all to see and are being committed in the equivalent of broad daylight with utter impunity.”

As always, we in our democracies need to be vigilant and aware of the potential for collusion and skullduggery and do our best to make sure terrible things do not happen in our name.

 

 

 

 

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