The deep state is un­change­able.

The Washington Post Sunday - - OUTLOOK -

Mike Lof­gren, a for­mer con­gres­sional staffer with sig­nif­i­cant ex­pe­ri­ence in the de­fense bud­get world, calls the deep state “al­most im­per­vi­ous to change.” Ver­sions of this ar­gu­ment per­sist on talk ra­dio. “The peo­ple in Wash­ing­ton are not just go­ing to sit idly by and let elec­tion re­sults de­ter­mine whether or not [change] hap­pens to them,” Rush Lim­baugh said this month.

But the deep state is highly frag­ile — vul­ner­a­ble, by its na­ture, to sin­gle-point fail­ure, usu­ally in the form of in­di­vid­u­als who have some­thing they’d like to tell the world. Think of Ed­ward Snow­den’s in­tel­lec­tual re­volt against the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency, or the de­ci­sion by a lonely Army pri­vate in Iraq to steal diplo­matic ca­bles, or whomever gifted Wik­iLeaks with the CIA’s phone and tele­vi­sion hack­ing tools. In this way, a sin­gle per­son can com­pletely al­ter the way an in­sti­tu­tion con­ducts trade­craft.

Fur­ther, bu­reau­crats can­not avoid the con­se­quences of mis­be­hav­ior di­rected at the pres­i­dent. Bud­gets can be slashed. Pro­grams can be cur­tailed. And pol­icy can be changed. The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion made it harder for the gov­ern­ment to as­sert its state se­crets priv­i­lege, di­rected the Of­fice of the Di­rec­tor of Na­tional In­tel­li­gence to de­clas­sify and dis­close a sig­nif­i­cant amount of in­for­ma­tion about the NSA’s le­gal wran­gling with fed­eral courts, and asked the NSA to dis­close to com­pa­nies many of the “zero day” (or pre­vi­ously un­known) vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties found by its hack­ers.

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