Rebellion Brews in Washington—But American ‘Deep State’ Is Only a Myth

No secret entrenched bureaucracy is plotting to overthrow Donald Trump

As Donald Trump’s White House fumbles mounted in his first month in office, including several insults casually aimed at our Intelligence Community, something close to all-out war between the president and the country’s spies has broken through the surface. Faced with a commander-in-chief who compares them to Nazi Germany and accuses them of being “very anti-American,” intelligence professionals have fought back with leaks, per time-tested tradition.

In particular, IC sources have informed journalists—this one included—about signals intelligence intercepts of phone calls to the Russian embassy in Washington which led to the early downfall of National Security Advisor Mike Flynn. Additional SIGINT collected by the National Security Agency demonstrated that several members of Trump’s inner circle maintained contacts with Moscow in the months before the November 8 election. In neither case did anyone inform the media of the content of those calls, but the mere fact that they had been intercepted posed problems for the new administration.

These revelations have been highly embarrassing to the White House, and led to denunciations of leakers by the president on down, as well as assurances that the malefactors who talked to the press without authorization will be tracked down and punished. This drama has an unavoidably Nixonian flair, since that vindictive president, too, waged a war on leakers—ultimately leading to the break-in at the Watergate, which unraveled Richard Nixon’s presidency.

 Many Trump backers have professed outrage at America’s leaky spies, whom they claim are acting out of loyalty to the previous administration. That charge is absurd, since there are hardly any political appointees in the IC. Save a few very high-ranking IC personnel, our spies are professionals—not donors appointed to cushy Washington jobs. In this sense, the Intelligence Community is very unlike other parts of the Federal government.

One charge, however, is more serious, and that is the claim from certain Trump supporters that the president is the target of a conspiracy hatched by the “deep state” in Washington. According to this take, the IC and related elements of our secret government have gone rogue and are acting beyond their remit. In this telling, resentful spies are spreading stories about President Trump, especially regarding his mysterious ties to Russia, in order to remove him from office.

Read the rest at The Observer …