In the United States, the term “deep state” is used to describe a conspiracy theory which suggests that collusion and cronyism exist within the US political system and constitutes a hidden government within the legitimately elected government.

Some people believe that there is “a hybrid association of elements of government and parts of top-level finance, the military, the intelligence agencies and industry that is effectively able to govern the United States without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process”, whereas others consider the deep state to encompass corruption that is particularly prevalent amongst career politicians and civil servants.

The term “deep state” has been associated with the “military–industrial complex” i.e the Carlyle group and the army of military contractors by several of the authors on the subject. Potential risks from the military–industrial complex were raised in President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1961 farewell address: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

Mike Lofgren has claimed the military-industrial complex is the private part of the deep state.

However, Marc Ambinder has suggested that a myth about the “deep state” is that it functions as one entity; in reality, he states, “the deep state contains multitudes, and they are often at odds with one another.”

Tufts University professor Michael J. Glennon claimed that President Barack Obama did not succeed in resisting and/or changing what he calls the “double government”; the defense and national security network. Mike Lofgren felt Obama was pushed into the Afghanistan “surge” in 2009. Another major campaign promise Obama made was the closure of Guantanamo Bay Prison Camp, which he was unable to accomplish. This has been attributed indirectly to the influence of a deep state.

President Donald Trump’s supporters use the term to refer to allegations that intelligence officers and executive branch officials guide policy through leaking or other internal means.

According to a July 2017 report by the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, “the Trump administration was being hit by national security leaks ‘on a nearly daily basis’ and at a far higher rate than its predecessors encountered”.

Trump and Steve Bannon, his former chief strategist, have both made allegations about a deep state which they believe is interfering with the president’s agenda. In 2018, describing the deep state as an “entrenched bureaucracy”, Trump accused the United States Department of Justice “of being part of the ‘deep state'” in a statement advocating the prosecution of Huma Abedin. Some Trump allies and right-wing media outlets have alleged that former president Barack Obama is coordinating a deep state resistance to Trump.

Writing in The Guardian in April, Jack Goldsmith, a law professor at Harvard, said the “Deep State” such as it is, is “national security bureaucrats who use secretly collected information to shape or curb the actions of elected officials.” The “Deep State” does indeed exist, and leaks to the press -to develop Trump’s “enemy of the people” persona – are their currency.

They are the weapon of choice used by its members to undermine or put the brakes on policies they oppose. “Since Trump was elected, unusually sensitive leaks of intelligence information designed to discredit him and his senior leadership have poured forth from current and former intelligence officials in the Deep State.

Trump, for his part, said that “unelected, Deep State operatives who defy the voters to push their own secret agendas are truly a threat to democracy itself.” The far right has been warning about the dangers of the “Deep State” ever since Trump took office, accusing it of seeking to thwart his conservative agenda.


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