When it comes to fighting the ‘double state’, knowledge is power

(This is important enough that I’m going to paste in the entire article.  THD sent it to me this week, and I haven’t read the pdf; it’s 99 pages.  I’m going to assume that the author won’t mind me helping to disseminate it.  I am not agreeing with it, especially vis a vis Obomba, but it’s serious stuff.)  From privacysos.org:

What’s to explain President Obama’s monumental shift from staunch civil liberties advocate to fierce defender of warrantless, dragnet surveillance? Some people believe he changed when, as commander in chief, he became responsible for the nation’s defense. The ‘threat’ reports he reads every morning must have eroded and overcome his constitutional law training, the theory goes.

But as I’ve argued here before, there’s another, much more sinister and frightening explanation: the President isn’t really running the show. While this theory isn’t mutually exclusive from the possibility that President Obama was scared away from civil liberties by alleged Somali threats against his life, it’s much more dangerous. Such a theory is frightening because if true, it means that an elected leader’s personal desires and political views are actually only marginally relevant to determining the size, shape, and boundaries of the National Security State. And if that’s so, democracy is in grave peril. If we are to accept this view, it means we must reorient our advocacy efforts to undermine autocratic systems. It means, in short, that we may be barking up the wrong tree.

A new essay advances the conversation considerably by examining the deep state’s origins in the United States and identifying its sources of power. Michael Glennon’s ‘National Security and Double Government’ describes the deep state phenomenon in the US as a ‘double state’, with ‘efficient’ institutions like the National Security Council and the CIA running the show, while the ‘dignified’ institutions—the courts, congress, and the elected members of the executive branch—play a supporting, public relations role. The efficient institutions use their secret knowledge (which translates into power) to advance the proposition that only they can protect democracy, and argue that they need near limitless authority and money to do it.

Large segments of the public continue to believe that America’s constitutionally established, dignified institutions are the locus of governmental power; by promoting that impression, both sets of institutions maintain public support. But when it comes to defining and protecting national security, the public’s impression is mistaken. America’s efficient institution makes most of the key decisions concerning national security, removed from public view and from the constitutional restrictions that check America’s dignified institutions. The United States has, in short, moved beyond a mere imperial presidency to a bifurcated system—a structure of double government—in which even the President now exercises little substantive control over the overall direction of U.S. national security policy.

Instead of some carefully plotted conspiracy on the part of the nation’s well-heeled elites, this state of affairs has come about, the author argues, as an unlucky coincidence.

Members of America’s efficient institutions have not secretly colluded in some dark plot aimed at wresting control over national security from its dignified institutions. What may appear in these institutions’ collective motivation as conscious parallelism has in fact been a wholly open and, indeed, unabashed response to incentives deeply rooted in the legal and political structures in which they operate.

In light of its numerous, costly failures, what protects the efficient institutions from the wrath of a truly democratic public? For Glennon, it’s all about information. Knowledge starved citizens stand no chance of fighting the supremacy of the efficient state. When people do not know basic facts about either the history or the present, they are easily managed. “There is, accordingly, little need for purposeful deception to induce generalized deference [to the will of the efficient institutions]; in contemporary America…, a healthy dose of theatrical show goes a long way.”

In an effort to eat away at some of that ignorance, Glennon’s essay provides an important history of post-WWII United States government, illustrating how the deep or efficient institutions developed. Harry Truman’s role in the creation and promotion of efficient institutions like the CIA and NSC was so central that the author uses ‘Trumanite’ to describe the opposite of ‘Madisonian’. The Trumanite institutions function in the dark; they privilege knowledge and insider-ness. Madisonian institutions, meanwhile, while serving as the public face of democratic government, have less and less influence in critical decision making.

Fast forward into the present, more than twelve years after the 9/11 attacks. The secrecy and power of the efficient institutions have been compounded by over a decade of global war. The ‘Global War on Terror’ state of exception has become the new normal. And, to a greater extent than ever before in US history, the efficient or deep state has begun to trickle out of the Washington, DC metropolitan area down into major urban areas nationwide. The national securitization and federalization of local police departments and the relatively new Department of Homeland Security are the bearers of this power shift. Today, city council officials are likely to be as ignorant of the so-called ‘counterterrorism’ measures and expenditures at their local police departments as rank and file congress members are about the inner workings of the NSC and CIA. Along with this shift comes billions of dollars, new secrecy regimes, and the bifurcation of state and local government into the Knowers and the Unknowers.

How did this happen? Glennon’s description of the incentive structure establishing security arrangements at the federal level fits the local manifestations, too:

Overprotection of national security creates costs that the Trumanite network can externalize; under-protection creates costs that the network must internalize. The resulting incentive structure encourages the exaggeration of existing threats and the creation of imaginary ones. The security programs that emerge are, in economic terms, “sticky down”—easier to grow than to shrink.

The Trumanites sacrifice little when disproportionate money or manpower is devoted to security. The operatives that they direct do not incur trade-off costs. The Trumanites do, however, reap the benefits of that disproportionality—a larger payroll, more personnel, broader authority, and an even lower risk that they will be blamed in the event of a successful attack.

Therefore local officials demand more ‘homeland security’ money, more surveillance cameras, spy drones, and expanded powers after the Boston marathon attack. No matter that the surveillance cameras dotting the finish line at Boylston street had zero deterrent effect to the bombers. Like the CIA after 9/11, the local fusion centers and counterterrorism task forces reap the benefits, but there are no trade-off costs for failure.

Meanwhile, workplace accidents and industrial disasters in the United States kill tens of thousands of people per year. Terrorism against Americans doesn’t rank among the top threats to life or security in the United States—not even close. But the survival and growth of the efficient institutions depends on the maintenance of a culture of fear. And if fear is the oxygen that sustains the secretive national security state, secrecy is its lifeblood.


The Trumanites have [many] incentives to keep information to themselves. Knowing that information in Washington is power, they are, in the words of Jack Balkin, both information gluttons and information misers. They are information gluttons in that they “grab as much information as possible”; they are information misers in that they try to keep it from the public. Potential critics, power competitors, and adversaries are starved for information concerning the Trumanite network while it feasts on information concerning them. The secrecy of Trumanite activities thus grows as the privacy of the general public diminishes and the Trumanites’ shared “secret[s] of convenience” bind them more tightly together.

Five years into the Barack Obama presidency, six months after Edward Snowden’s NSA disclosures, we must look squarely at the shape and size of the security bureaucracy in the United States, and sharpen the ax. We shouldn’t expect the president to do what’s necessary to establish equilibrium and check the power of the ‘Trumanite’ institutions, no matter who she is or what she may have once believed. That check will only come when people demand it, en mass.

As Glennon argues in the Harvard National Security Journal, the danger in the United States is likely not the sudden takeover of government by an authoritarian monster like Hitler. The very real and present danger is the slow erosion of the Madisonian institutions, and the untouchable and growing supremacy of the efficient ones. Like frogs boiling in a pot, the danger is that by the time a large number of us realize what’s happened, it will be too late to turn back the clock.

What can we do to avert this disaster in the making? If the efficient institutions thrive when the public is ignorant, we must speak out loudly and more often. If the deep state can only sustain its power under cover of darkness, we must open the closets and turn on the lights. And if its excesses can only be justified to a fearful population, we must reject fearmongering and the Islamophobia that serves as its carrier.

So no matter who is the president, let’s resolve to speak out against government secrecy and autocracy; support and defend the courageous whistleblowers who risk life and limb to tell the public the truth; and call out anti-Muslim racism and discrimination everywhere we see it. All of that might not avert this disaster in the making, but if we fail to do these things we can be sure that the country our children inherit will be a democracy in name only, no matter what the Bill of Rights has to say about it.”

Also hideously noteworthy, and no surprise, The hidden history of the CIA’s prison in Poland’

And from The bureau of investigative journalism: More than 2,400 dead as Obama’s drone campaign marks five years

Finally (maybe): ‘Privacy Pretense: How Silicon Valley Helped the NSA’

Last month, Silicon Valley purported to be shocked by revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) has routinely accessed the servers of tech giants Google and Yahoo, which store data for hundreds of millions of users. In response, the companies pledged to step up privacy protections.

There is only one problem: Such protections run counter to the business model and public policy agenda that tech companies have pursued for decades. For years, U.S. information technology (IT) firms have actively backed weak privacy rules that let them collect massive amounts of personal data. The strategy enabled the companies to work their way into every corner of consumers’ lives and gave them a competitive edge internationally. Those same policies, however, have come back to haunt IT firms. Lax rules created fertile ground for NSA snooping. In the wake of the surveillance scandals, as consumer confidence plummets, technology companies’ economic futures are threatened”

…and so on.  For my money, the ech giants have gotten off far too easily in this great ‘debate’.  The only thing that’s suffered a bit is their pocketbooks, but that’s not enough, imo.  The world needs to know what they enabled.

29 responses to “When it comes to fighting the ‘double state’, knowledge is power

  1. Well, I just read through this and I’m really not changed in my view of things that I should be aware of and carefully discerning of. I had assumed the secret state already existed with their own game plan and I had assumed that key “elected,” officials were more or less controlled by them. Let’s hope we find a few more facts to change abilities for some select few to be in control, mostly unseen.

    Anyway, I enjoyed the read, I’ll bookmark the pdf, and possibly have a go at it, maybe tomorrow, sitting in with the forecast wind chills -30 to -50 F.

    Again, very well done with the announcement of E.F. Bealle’s passing. It is no secret why the request was made of you. (((wendyedavis)))

  2. holy crow, that’s cold. it’s been 50 degrees here all week, so dry it’s frightening.

    yes, and the National Security Act of 1947, Central Intelligence Act of 1949, cold war ‘protocols and apparatus’ were all truman creations, as thd pointed out. as he says, the report ballasts what he’s been saying all along. i confess i quip back about nailing our ‘leaders’ asses to the wall anyway, lol.

    yes, calling out for transparency and wantonly killing brown people is fine, but how many are doing it? well, we are, i guess. does a tree falling in the forest with no one, tra la la?

    yes the silent forest. i need to take a break from fdl i am so pissed that they didn’t promote the news of ef’s death. and the people who made excuses? Pfffffft. i was glad jane saw my comment.

    dunno if dana might not have lauraw post the obit. ’bout all she said about the post was thanks, and by the by, ‘my name’s dana, not deana’. :) ah, well, her father’s daughter, i reckon.

    i’ve been jerking myself around as i have laptop time trying to find more about the pilot program in the farm bill (due to be passed wed.) for 10 states to require single mums with children to be required to work. at something. the additional snap cuts will be ‘limited’ to $ billion over ten years. oh, those dems: they know what to stand for in an election year!

    i keep getting videos on the sotu from the white house, and almost wish i had time to post on them…and what he’ll claim to be about. well, time to get my four loaves of dough shaped into their little pans

  3. Only two loaves for me and me teen tonight. Just about ready to punch down the second rise and do the same. Trying a stainless round form as I’ve been using pyrex loaf pans, the loaves don’t easily release, but the pans don’t rust or lose there finish.

    Propane price gouging big time in the upper midwest, State Sen Kathleen Vinehout has the lowdown, she was in the D primary against Walker until her car accident, reconstructed right arm, follow up surgery the next couple of months.

    Trek bicycle heiress, D anointed candidate against Walker, Mary Burke, dropped several points in the polls having started almost even with him. Simply clueless, trying to win hearts and minds with refusing to take a stand on anything.

    If you get bored with the WH, Blue Cheddar currently featuring both topics in depth. US has no gas reserves, new they were stretching supplies last fall.

    Three dog night, but I only have one cat.

  4. “What’s to explain President Obama’s monumental shift from staunch civil liberties advocate to fierce defender of warrantless, dragnet surveillance?…
    But as I’ve argued here before, there’s another, much more sinister and frightening explanation: the President isn’t really running the show.”

    ‘As a young lawmaker defining himself as a presidential candidate, Barack Obama visited a center for scholars in August 2007 to give a speech on terrorism. He described a surveillance state run amok and vowed to rein it in. “That means no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens,” he declared.’; then, ‘Jul 09, 2008 · Telecom immunity passes Senate, Obama votes yes.’

    Only delusional doublethink enables denial of the obvious that Baracketeer Heinous ObamAssassin is wholly a CIA asset, a BS (Bush Shadow) Company man; consigliere to God-father Poppy’s global crime syndicate, a collaborator with crooked Wall Street money launderers and associate of Mafia organized criminals. OR, A Spook’s gonna spy!

  5. dunno blue cheddar, but when i got back to my laptop and saw your comment, I (arrrrgh!) remembered my loaves were still proofing under the oven light. guess they’ll be…not quite the right stuff, but good enough for who they’re for. :)

  6. Oh Bruce,

    Got myself into a heap of big trouble creatively naming our POTUS over here in the dairy state. Obomba, Obombem, and several other more common derivations on that theme, Barry Obuzzkill discussing legalization, yesterday. These “progressives,” here are a tough bunch at times. ;^)

    On the who is really running things topic, we can’t forget to bring in the MSM and their corporate shlepping and distraction from the issues. GMO labeling hysteria in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, hyperventilating about is it really necessary, are GMO foods really that bad, yadda, yadda? Not once in the article is the point of the actual POISON spread on the crops, terminator seeds or monopolizing (patenting genes) seed production to corner the markets ever mentioned. Labeling hysteria being the big distraction from the environ-economic terrorism and damage being inflicted already and on a continuing basis. As much as I think I am aware of things, this particular distraction eluded me until recently. Intentional or just a short sighted reporter asked to focus on a particular subject? Obviously, no poisons, no GMOs, then no need for worrying about labels.


  7. Indeed. We have the tools like the Clean Water Act and buck-stop executive action (e.g., veto, executive order, regulation promulgation) to ELIMINATE these depredations (and attendant brainstem mudia diversionary tactics); but For DESPOTUS’ Intentional DERELICTION!

  8. I’m with nonquixote.

    When the head of the intelligence service can lie under oath to the elected representatives, without any consequence, not even a harsh word, it’s obvious who runs things isn’t it? The same guy even got appointed to head the panel looking into his own doings.

    They don’t even have to pretend at this point.

    I think some elected people can make changes, in some areas, like voting rights, civil rights, abortion, things like that. Maybe fiddle around with minim wage a little bit. but not too much.

    They are not able to do anything at all with the military industrial complex.

    The guy that wrote confessions of an economic hit man, laid it all out very plainly.

    first they put some money on the table. If that doesn’t work, the put a gun on the table.

  9. My overall theory is that after ww2, millions of men well trained in handling weapons, and hardened to battle, hardship, and killing, returned to America having participated in defeating the Japanese and Germans.

    They expected some reward for that.

    It would have been very dangerous for the elites, the parents and grandparents of those in charge now, to not reward them at that point. It was impossible not to give the men and their families something.

    1950 to 1970. twenty years of improving life for those people, and everyone else.

    That was it. It was save after twenty five years, to clamp down again. here we are.

    They won’t stop, till they are made to stop.

  10. well, bruce, i take your rant on obomba, yes i do, but still, the trumanite depths are undeniably a core problem of the hidden system as well as the overt. abolition and starting over with what’s truly needed is the only answer, but ‘needed’ would have to be open to great debate.

    yeah, unitary executive decisions are only in aid of war, assassinations, and the like.

    ‘debate’ is what we’re NOT having about gen-modified foods, is it, nonqixote? this government allows in-house studies to stand as evidence of their safety, for instance. of course they fight labeling since they know their sales would plummet if buyers were aware.

  11. somebody posted a letter truman wrote in the early sixties to the NYT maybe, saying that the spies were out of control, doing things he had not intended, and that they should be stopped. It’s not hard to find, if you’re interested.

    Trumanite. don’t like that one.

  12. yes, john perkins. and yes to: ‘they won’t stop until they are made to stop’, and only we can make them stop. tall order i hope we’re up to…one day soon.

    sotu tonight. obomba will say that ‘he’ will end the war in afghanistan by the end of the year. oh, yes; even if it doesn’t come to zero option.’but we’ll have to vacate our drone bases to protect the nukes in pakistan!’ (hint, hint, clue, propaganda)

  13. That would Be JingObama.

  14. I read a book about nukes in Pakistan. It’s one of the great successes of the USA. They cia was aware all along of the activities of aq kahn, and made no attempt to stop him. they just monitored the things, being more concerned about something else, soviet union, or something like that.

    The CIA exists to foment unrest in this world. That’s it’s purpose.

  15. the ‘trumanites’ term was down to the author. but yes to the cia; a tool of empire, among many other…pernicious tools.

    don’t have time now to look for the letter, but you indicate that even he recoiled from the unintended consequences of his designs?

    bruce: you’ve just reminded me of treble army’s ‘discoBomba’

  16. guess this is a good enough place as any for this news:

    “An 83-year-old nun is one of the three peace activists facing prison time for breaking into a defense facility that stores enriched uranium for nuclear bombs.
    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — An elderly nun and two other peace activists are set to be sentenced Tuesday on their federal convictions for damage they caused breaking into a Tennessee defense facility where enriched uranium for nuclear bombs is stored.
    Sister Megan Rice, Michael Walli, and Greg Boertje-Obed admitted cutting fences and making their way across the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., in July 2012, embarrassing U.S. officials and prompting security changes.”


  17. mark here

    covered today ray mcgovern


  18. From the activist link wendy,

    “disrupted operations, endangered U.S. national security, and caused physical damage that cost more than $8,500 to repair.

    Same punishment for the propane price gougers?

  19. Thanks for this, wendye – there’s something in the ether, maybe strongly mixed with banjo strumms, but yes to the Trumanite origins, at least within my lifetime – I strongly recommend the first two parts of Gar Alperovitz’s discussion over at the real news – trnn.com/ I think it is. He was ‘in’ government back when, so his factual account of the reasons for Hiroshima made my hair stand on end, as did his claim that these were not evil politicians. Yes, they were, Gar, sorry but they were! Especially made my hair stand on end when he described calmly how after FDR died all his people were pushed out by Truman. All those poor people standing by the tracks as FDR’s train moved through, and Truman couldn’t wait to be rid of him. (Shades of my own little church experience, but I digress. It happens.)

    Then I came across this this morning – posted it to the Solartopia thread on fdl as the banjo was thrumming mightily as I read:


    I totally agree with the above that Obama was neither an ingenue nor a convert – he was a plant, plain and simple, a genetically modified plant. Who planted him can be discussed at length but if you want a conspiracy theory that’s my one and I’m sticking to it. He never was a civil rights advocate; he was a plant from the getgo. And his charming wife too. I heard an early interview in which she said so bitterly how much more brilliant she and her husband had to be to get where they were going. Shades of Clarence Thomas – you cannot trust people like that. They have made their Faustian bargain and there’s no going back until Gabriel blows his horn. (Accompanied by banjo.)

  20. Mark, I don’t think it was being obligated to the military that changed the mindset of realpolitik in this country. It was the murderous decision to drop the atomic bomb. That decision went out of all proportion into a satanic mindset, and all who agreed with doing it were inescapably doomed – even and especially Truman. He might have been horrified at what the CIA became, but he created it – just as he made that political decision which has reverberated across the decades like the outside metal ball in that fancy apparatus – swing;click: swing;click.

    That’s where it all began. Once we see that, we might be able to have a stab at stilling it.

    Didn’t he say ‘The buck stops here’?? True, man.

  21. Mark here

    juliania, if you can get it Gar Alperovitz wrote a book about the decision to drop the atomic bomb. It’s a very good book. explains it all very clearly.

    you’re probably right about that.

    The nun is a hero, along with the two others that went with her. ignored by the media.

  22. T/H (Top Hat) to teh Treble Army: it perfectly epitomizes the $old-out DiscObamas’ terminal plutocratic yuppiness!

  23. oh, dear; i’m way behind. first:

    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – A sentencing hearing for an 83-year-old nun and two other Catholic peace activists was delayed Tuesday after the federal courthouse in Knoxville shut down because of snow.
    A judge ordered Sister Megan Rice, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed (bohr-CHEE’ OH-bed’) to pay full restitution of nearly $53,000 for damaging the primary U.S. storehouse for bomb-grade uranium.
    But after four hours of argument and emotional testimony, U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar announced that the courthouse was closing and sentencing would have to wait, likely until Feb. 18.


    oh, thank you, mark, for the ray mcgovern link; looks very interesting.

    yes, bruce, treble army nailed it. can you tell me who’s speaking at the start? i’m embarrassed not to recognize his face, but the voice is so familiar. you may like the obomba message video i included at the end of my current post. :)

  24. juliania, i like obomba as a gen-modified plant, but i think that the key to him is that he is adaptable as hell, as in: no moral core whatsoever, and willing to do what’s expedient in the name of power and gain. we see his affiliation with reverend wright in a different light now: it was a con even then to gain cred in his community, eh? throwing him over was easy as pie (as well as all the other folks he’s jettisoned with ease).

    i see what you mean about dropping the bombs as changing realpolitik, but with the deep trumanite stuff it was more about breaking the soviet union (still goes on with russia), and it was all so deep and vast that the security arm never seemed to know when they were going down. then after the breakup, a new enemy as perpetual had to be found. yes, ‘radical muslims’, war without end.

    africom: saving the continent from chaos, instability. us and the west arm both sides of conflicts all over the ME; pivot to china…Empire is at the core of the deep state. as is industrial spying by the acronym agencies.

    interesting what you took gar as saying, though; ugh. i’d cruised through trrn and had seen two vids with him, didn’t click in. but one had indicated that he may have backed off from his ‘mondragon can scale up indefinitely, save the world’ or something, yes?

    good on caroline for calling out the creature killing with live fire exercises, but i wonder about what other things she’ll do as ambassador, not to be cynical…

  25. Yes, I’d first just gone to the last of the Alperovitz conversations, about Mondragon, didn’t find too much new there from Gar actually – but then I went back to 1) and 2) which were more biographical – his upgoing from youth through Congressional jobs, which I found interesting. Mark, I will try to find that book – he was working in D.C. when I was a student in Annapolis.

    Yes to wendye about Russia – maybe realpolitik wasn’t the right word, but that’s what I meant.

    Gosh that SOTU was awful – but Yves has a thing about Post Office accounts – why didn’t O get on that bandwagon instead of his idiotic Myra? – I know, rhetorical question. [ I didn’t watch, only have been reading – I thanked eCAHN for providing a link to a Poirot episode – I did that instead last night.] Here’s Yves:


    This would give my sons somewhere to bank, and me since my bank (credit union) is half a day away.

  26. i stand amazed by the postal IG’s report. he has been so very against anything like that until now. i can’t remember which post, maybe a recent one i wrote on unions, but i’d mentioned (with links) that some folks were running for union leadership jobs just to try to force solutions like that.

    many thanks to yves and david dayen.

    p.s. i’m going to start setting up my new laptop today, so i’ll likely be pretty absent. i’d like to go as far as i can so i can send it to the tech guys in cortez to see what they can pull off my crashed hard drive to load onto it. so many photos and word documents, oh dear. :)

    Added: i dunno what ‘Myra’ is, ww.

  27. Good luck computerizing, wendye! You don’t want to know what Myra is, trust me. Continue in blessed ignorance.

    Washday for me. My croci are blooming!

  28. thank you, ww. i got it far enough along to send it and the dead un on to the geeks in cortez to see what they could rescue from the crashed hard drive. fingers crossed, oh me oh my. croci blooming? see, that’s what enclosed space can do!

    argh; i looked, and if you mean ‘MyRA’, yes, gag me twice.

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