The unusual term ‘Deep State’ has recently started to permeate the mainstream press. It emerged because of the phenomenal speed of leaks coming out of Washington in relation to Russia’s involvement with the American presidential election. Mike Flynn being fired was just one repercussion of this.
So who are these leakers anyway? What are their intentions? And who are they trying to hold accountable? All good questions that remain unanswered.
The deep state is the notion that leaders come and go but that there is a permanent bureaucracy, namely the security organisations, that stay on to affect change. Beneath the surface they are the real powers and they decide what happens. Deep states tend to occur in countries where democracy is a threatened proposition such as Egypt, Turkey and Pakistan. However we only have to look back a couple years ago in the United States to see that the deep state took some native form. Scott Shane, an intelligence reporter for the NY times, recently said, “Under President Bush, we learned that the CIA had secret prisons, that the CIA had enhanced integration techniques which were basically torture, the N.S.A. were eavesdropping without court orders. All those things came from leakers, so I think we’re seeing the traditional leaker whistle-blower role emerging. We’ve been seeing that on steroids for a while right now.”
Supporters of Trump, including Breitbart news, have said that there is an undercover war being waged, that there is a “deep state coup against the president”, and that the shadowy powers that be will exercise their control in secret. Are those shadowy powers trying to end the presidency? Shane thinks there are some that might be waging a war. “Some insiders are determined to end it. They will do what is within their power. […] I do think the tensions between the bureaucracy and the president may be greater at this moment than any other moment in modern American history, so it looks like there will be some real collisions.”
It wouldn’t be fair to compare the deep state to repressed states like Turkey (well probably not just yet.) In states like Turkey the deep state find it impossible to hold checks and balances on a leader like Erdoğan who rules with an iron fist. However some doomsayers don’t agree with that notion. Yale history professor Tim Snyder recently suggested that American democracy has less than a year to live.
So with President Trump skirting the outside of his constitutional powers, railing against the press and acting in many ways like a crazy despotic dictator, it would seem that the war between the intelligence communities and the government is just heating up. This won’t be the last we hear of the term deep state.