It’s the hidden source of national security policy.
According to some on the right, there exists a group of unaccountable men and women who have collectively decided to go rogue. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn “was ousted by former Obama officials to protect [the] Iran Deal,” reported the Blaze, a conservative site. And according to some on the left, including civil libertarian Glenn Greenwald, deep-state officials want to make sure Russia remains an enemy of the United States.
The reality is that the deep state is a major, hidden amplifier of national security policy that is set by elected officials and carried out primarily through public communication, concentrated diplomacy and overt military action. After 9/11, for instance, the George W. Bush administration decided that preemptively killing terrorists before they could strike the homeland was a top priority. The military carried out that policy by war, as did the CIA’s drone fleet. Similarly, the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program morphed quickly into a state-sanctioned torture regime, because the Bush administration wanted it to work and assumed it was working. The policy was approved at the highest levels of our government by citizens we elected to serve us. Congressional leaders knew the gist of what was happening, even if they didn’t get all the details.
If President Trump decides to reach out to Vladimir Putin, the deep state will help him, even if the product of its intelligencegathering suggests wariness and caution. These operations are merely meant to assist difficult political choices made by the executive branch.