Monday, March 13, 2017

Pity the Poor Deep State

If Donald Trump hates Big Brother, and reasonable people hate Donald Trump, then it naturally follows that reasonable people should love Big Brother:
 Representative Ted Lieu, a Democrat from California, wrote on Twitter: “We are whistle-blowers, press, judges, legislators, cooks, teachers. We are #DeepState. We are the American people.”
That tongue-in-cheek message is the centerpiece of a New York Times "interpreter" article which solemnly tells us that although there is no such thing as the Deep State, it is getting a bad rap. The horrible stuff you're hearing about spies hacking into your iPhones and TVs is naught but a paranoid delusion of conspiracy buffs. So our convoluted duties as loyal citizen-consumers are, first, to deny that the deep state exists, and second, to co-opt its meaning. We must bowdlerize it and render it harmless and huggable.

Democratic Party Bumper Sticker

 The Times piece, written by Max Fisher, employs the usual experts to create a field of straw men and sophistry. The talking points:

--America is not Egypt or Pakistan. We are a democracy, and the good folks at the CIA, the FBI and the NSA are getting a totally bad rap from the new nutty president and his alt-right minions. The dedicated bureaucrats who listen in to the world's conversations and collect all your emails are people, just like you. If it weren't for Donald Trump crazily tweeting that he's been wiretapped, the spy agencies could continue doing their unaccountable thing in the dark. Because this is a democracy.

--American spies and the secret police are like climate scientists. They are united in professional victimhood. Just as the right-wingers have politicized researchers by forcing them out of their laboratories to defend the science, so too are the spooks being forced into the glare of sunlight. And it's all because of Trump's crazy allegations. We can thus deduce from the article that climate change research is very similar to spying on people and fomenting coups in foreign countries. CIA agents who torture Muslims in black site prisons and FBI agents working undercover to undermine protest movements deserve the same level of privacy as climate investigators who study receding polar ice caps and rising methane levels in the atmosphere.

--Look what's happened in Turkey. Its authoritarian president also used the Deep State paranoia method to destroy democratic institutions and kill a whole bunch of innocent people. You don't want that to happen here too, do you? You want to live, don't you?  So please, people, let the Intelligence Community carry on with its secret work in order to save democracy from people. Trade your privacy for an illusion of security.

Max Fisher is an alumnus of the corporate-funded "explainer" website known as Vox (the populi part has been left off for very good reason, since the writing is mostly done by self-described wonks tasked with pushing the neoliberal Clinton/Obama narrative to the ignorant populace.)  You might remember Max Fisher from a previous Times "interpreter" piece in which he explained why we should all hate and fear Russia, and love the secretive R.A.N.D. Corporation.

Thus does Fisher continue his strange love for our unaccountable and money-bloated "intelligence community":
Mr. Trump has put institutions under enormous stress. He has attacked them publicly, implied he would reject intelligence findings that cast his election in a poor light, hobbled agencies by failing to fill critical positions and cut off bodies like the National Security Council from shaping policy.
That has forced civil servants into an impossible dilemma: acquiesce, allowing their institution to be sidelined, or mount a defense, for example through leaks that counter Mr. Trump’s accusations or pressure him into restoring normal policy-maker practices.
There's nothing worse than forcing Top Secret America to endure the agony of the leak. After all, the Obama administration has just got done prosecuting more government whistleblowers than in all previous administrations combined. It even instituted a program called Insider Threat, which mandated that even non-IC government bureaucrats must report one another's reading material and marital infidelities on pain of getting fired for failure to snoop on the job. But that was all being done in-house. And now Trump, taunting bully that he is, is forcing them to take the fight to the public playground. 

Max Fisher writes:
When, for example, Mr. Trump accused former President Barack Obama of tapping his phones, he forced the F.B.I. into an unappealing choice: Let the accusation slide, though it implies the bureau broke the law, or rebuke the president and risk the appearance of playing politics.
Either way, the bureau loses some of its internal influence, public stature or, quite possibly, both. Losing stature can be especially dangerous, as the bureau needs public trust to effectively operate.
A reputation is a terrible thing to lose, especially since Americans have so long admired the FBI for wiretapping and smearing Martin Luther King Jr and writing him a vicious anonymous letter which urged him to commit suicide. 

When the Church Commission concluded in the 1970s that the FBI was a perfectly willing partner in all manner of political slime and democratic abuses, the police state might have gotten knocked down, but it quickly got up again.  Because as we all know, 9/11 Changed Everything.

We now have the Patriot Act, which has raised the stature of the FBI to such pristine heights that it can now secretly demand your personal information on the slightest whim or pretext. Congress has granted the agency the most unchecked authority it's enjoyed since Theodore Roosevelt secretly formed it more than a century ago as his own private spy detail, with neither the input nor the authorization of Congress.

As reported by Kevin Gosztola, since 2010 the bullied FBI has gotten virtually all its secret FISA Court bugging requests granted. It's enhanced its stellar public reputation by obtaining "national security letters" which have allowed it to nobly force companies to relinquish the credit card bills, phone records, and Internet search histories of more than 14,000 of their "terroristic" customers.

 For the most part, Barack Obama was able to effectively tamp down liberal resistance to the totally nonexistent Deep State through the magic of his charm offensive, even to the point of placating German Chancellor Angela Merkel when word leaked out that the American surveillance state had eavesdropped on her cell phone calls.

Now, Donald Trump is stirring up the whole can of worms. He is picking on poor lovable Big Brother, all for his own paranoid and selfish reasons. Trump must be stopped. 

It's getting so bad that IC flacks are being forced, all over again, to Tweet or go on the Sunday shows to flail against the cold hard truth that the NSA does, in fact, spy on Americans without a warrant by way of a loophole in the law allowing it to freely listen in to foreign phone calls with an American at one end. Or, if that won't work, the US can always farm out its domestic spying to other friendly countries, like Great Britain and Israel, in its surveillance-sharing network.

Of course, this need not worry you, especially when you have an establishment organ like the New York Times to obfuscate and interpret and explain it so that may recover from any lingering ignorance and be #StrongerDeepStateTogether.

We are all Winston Smith now. So take a tip from his creator, the late great George Orwell, and come in from out of the cold:
 O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.

Deep State R Us: Love it, or leave it. Or talk back to your TV if you have nowhere else to go. You won't even need your tinfoil hat to know that it's listening. Your concerns and your complete satisfaction are very important to it.


annenigma said...

Another great post, Karen.

The CIA supposedly doesn't spy on Americans, but they got caught spying on the U.S. Senate. The Deep State supposedly doesn't exist but there are calls for the Deep State to overthrow Trump. Resist Trump but not the Deep State.

My head is spinning, and the new Ministry of Truth propaganda department (I forget it's official name) hasn't even gotten up and running yet, or has it?

Karen Garcia said...

Thanks, Anne.

It really bugs me to say it, but Trump is absolutely right about being bugged in one form or the other. Probably many, many others. And the Democrats and their neocon pals are bending over backwards to deny it. There are so many power struggles going on at so many levels that for sure all our heads are spinning.

While I'm here, just want to also mention that I may be offline tomorrow and beyond, due to a big blizzard forecast to hit the Northeast. So if you write a comment after tonight, it might not appear for awhile. Unfortunately I still have to moderate comments because of continuing spam attacks.

annenigma said...

Glen Ford skewers the Deep State in 'The U.S. Deep State Rules – On Behalf of the Ruling Class'

"The Deep State is busy denying that it exists, even as it savages a sitting president and brutally bitch-slaps its host society, demanding the nation embrace its role as global psycho thug and kick some Russian ass."

"The ruling class and its War Party, now consolidated within the Democratic Party and regrouping among Republicans, have effectively neutralized a sitting president whose party controls both Houses of Congress, less than two months into his term.

Only a Deep State could pull that off."

annenigma said...

Today there's some kind of hokey American game show is on what is usually the RT channel in my area. Did the Deep State take it off the air? Or maybe Jeanne Shaheen?

This from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen's website as of yesterday: 'Shaheen Introduces Bill to Investigate Russian Propaganda Outlet RT News as a Foreign Agent'

"Following intelligence reports that RT News operates as a propaganda outlet for the Russian government, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) has introduced legislation that gives the Department of Justice new authority to investigate potential violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act by RT America."

Jesse Ventura has a new show due to start in June on RT. He's not going to be happy if he gets knocked off the air before it even launches. I hope this is just a temporary thing because I would miss it a lot, especially Peter Lavelle's 'CrossTalk', Chris Hedges' 'On Contact' and 'News with Ed Schultz'.

Is anyone getting RT on tv today? Thank Gore for the Internet.