For a long time, I resisted use of the term “Deep State.” The term seemed to connote a certain degree of Infowars/Alex Jones-esque conspiracy theorizing. Sure, the infamously Arabist denizens of the State Department permanent bureaucracy could always reliably be counted upon to oppose the foreign policy agendas of Republican administrations. But the proper remedy, it seemed to me, was to passionately argue that the ossification of any permanent bureaucracy necessarily redounds to the institutional interests of the Left. A condemnation of a purportedly subversive fifth column working within the executive branch, by contrast, seemed more properly the domain of the tin foil hat brigade.
But I was wrong. The Deep State is very, very real.
How else to possibly interpret the events of the past week — or the events of much of the past two and a half years, for that matter? Does anyone even remember Reality Winner, at this point? Does anyone even remember the leak of President Trump’s conversation with then-Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Trumbull?
To be sure, President Trump has done his fair part to exacerbate tensions between the White House and the sprawling alphabet soup agency apparatus referred to, in lionizing fashion, as our “intelligence community” praetorian guard. But the fact that Andrew McCabe is a real human being that exists certainly provides ample support for the president’s longstanding ire against the more shadowy elements of our fixed bureaucracy. Ditto the fact that the Department of Justice, under the auspices of Robert Mueller, instigated and executed a years-long Democratic Party impeachment process opposition research fishing expedition against the duly elected president of the United States.
Ever since the firing of the hapless James Comey and the subsequent launch of Mueller’s ill-fated probe, conservatives have accused the nation’s leftist ruling class of attempting a silent coup that would overturn the results of the 2016 presidential election. What has transpired here, via a disgruntled CIA officer gone rogue, is even worse. It is no longer merely well-coiffed Department of Justice higher-ups siccing a special counsel on a beleaguered president due to a complicated series of recusals at the departmental top. The fetid stretch of duplicity has metastasized much further and deeper. As the inestimable blogger William Jacobson put it: “If CIA or other intelligence operatives are using their access to sensitive information in order to interfere in our political process, then that is a lot more frightening than a president raising the widely-reported corruption of his political opponent with the president of the country where the alleged corruption took place.” Or as Kyle Shideler tweeted:
Broke: using CIA to overthrow commie governments for authoritarian governments.
Woke: Using CIA to overthrow Authoritarian governments for Islamic governments.
Bespoke: using CIA to overthrow your own government. https://t.co/KG5F2w9pPP
— Kyle Shideler (@ShidelerK) September 26, 2019
The whistleblower, who surely already has a seven-figure book deal inked and a parade of laudatory MSNBC on-camera hagiographies lined up, was almost assuredly not a one-off actor, furthermore. The complaint, with its sundry footnotes and statutory/executive order citations, reads an awful lot like the work of a lawyer — or perhaps a whole team of lawyers. It is exceedingly improbable that the complaint was the written work product of one individual.
The complaint, of course, is also entirely reliant on second-hand information — not even all of which has proven accurate. And the complaint, exclusively filled as it was with hearsay, was only actionable due to a rather mischievous bit of internal procedural re-working by “intelligence community” mandarins. As Sean Davis reports just this afternoon: “Between May 2018 and August 2019, the intelligence community secretly eliminated a requirement that whistleblowers provide direct, first-hand knowledge of alleged wrongdoings.”*
Beware of the Deep State. Unlike the teeth of leading impeachment inquisitor Nancy Pelosi, it appears to be very, very real.
Update: In response to The Federalist’s report claiming the intelligence community “secretly eliminated” the requirement for first-hand knowledge in a whistleblower complaint, the Intelligence Community Inspector General’s Office (ICIG) issued a statement on Sept. 30 refuting the claim, stating “there is no such requirement set forth in the statute”:
The Disclosure of Urgent Concern form the Complainant submitted on August 12, 2019 is the same form the ICIG has had in place since May 24, 2018, which went into effect before Inspector General [Michael] Atkinson entered on duty as the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community on May 29, 2018, following his swearing in as the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community on May 17, 2018. Although the form requests information about whether the Complainant possesses first-hand knowledge about the matter about which he or she is lodging the complaint, there is no such requirement set forth in the statute. In fact, by law the Complainant – or any individual in the Intelligence Community who wants to report information with respect to an urgent concern to the congressional intelligence committees – need not possess first-hand information in order to file a complaint or information with respect to an urgent concern. The ICIG cannot add conditions to the filing of an urgent concern that do not exist in law. Since Inspector General Atkinson entered on duty as the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, the ICIG has not rejected the filing of an alleged urgent concern due to a whistleblower’s lack of first-hand knowledge of the allegations.