Has the Deep State Won?
The title of this column reflects the first thought I had on the news of Steve Bannon's resignation last Friday as President Trump's strategic advisor.
Although I do not know Mr. Bannon personally, the impression I have gotten from reading biographies of him, as well as my knowledge of his enunciated beliefs, his patriotism, and the pivotal role he played in galvanizing Donald Trump's presidential campaign, caused me to believe that he was the one individual with the intellectual firepower, intestinal fortitude, and strategic vision to check the unchecked growth of our government.
Now, with his resignation, I fear that that the barely-begun battle to retake control of the government and pare it back to something resembling sanity, is lost.
Could Britain have survived the Nazi onslaught if Churchill had resigned? Could America have held together had Lincoln quit?
Granted, Bannon was not the head of state. But he clearly had the ability to apply a deep understanding of historical events and inflection points to contemporary trends and issues. Trump, while seeming to have the gut-level instincts to recognize the erosion of the sources of America's greatness, has never demonstrated or articulated a strategic vision to get us back to the societal model envisioned by the Founders: that quaint notion that the government answers to the people, rather than the other way around. He needed someone like Bannon to provide that.
For someone whose career is now spent in the trenches of the war against the Deep State, I looked forward with great anticipation to the launch of the Trump administration. I expected many rapid victories once Trump assumed office. I was sorely disappointed. A couple examples will illustrate the point.
A seemingly easy early win, which it appears the Trump administration could have effected, would have been the many government records that Judicial Watch had been battling the Obama administration in court to release through its Freedom of Information Act requests. After all, it would seem to be in the Trump administration's ideological and political interests to have records disgorged which would have exposed the Obama team's malfeasance, incompetence, and criminality. Yet the Trump Justice Department and other agencies are as dug in as any good Obama apparatchik in denying the release of those records.
The Benghazi disaster is a case in point. Judicial Watch has been fighting for years to expose the purpose of the U.S. operation in Benghazi, the events that led to the 2012 attack on the U.S. compound there, the reasons for the non-response by the Obama team to our diplomats and intelligence operatives in extremis that day, and the reasons behind the subsequent cover-up.
We've had much success to date in certain aspects of the investigation by, for example, uncovering Obama's Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes's "talking points email," wherein Rhodes doctored talking points to show that the Benghazi fiasco was not a "failure of policy." Those revelations in turn forced John Boehner to constitute a House Select Committee to look into the Benghazi matter.
However, Judicial Watch has had to continue to fight the government, now Trump's, to provide other basic records surrounding that event. It was only under court order this month that Trump's State Department has been forced to review the official State Department email accounts of Hillary Clinton's aides Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, and Jake Sullivan for communications relating to the Benghazi disaster and provide them to us. Why didn't Trump's secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, not call his Freedom of Information Act officers on his first day, in his first week, or even in his first six months in office and order the records released?
Another example of the Trump administration's seeming powerlessness or unwillingness to oppose the Deep State bureaucracy also comes courtesy of the State Department. As Judicial Watch reported recently, the State Department, through its Agency for International Development (USAID), has been funneling millions of dollars to George Soros-sponsored hard-left non-governmental organizations that seek to undermine pro-American governments in multiple foreign countries.
One such case we highlighted was Macedonia, which thanks largely to the United States, was a model of success after it threw off communism in 1991. It had a highly successful economy, strong free market policies and a conservative, pro-American government. That was until Barack Obama came along and started shoveling millions of U.S. tax dollars to some of Soros's 60-plus leftist, rabble-rousing organizations in Macedonia that sought to unite the members of the leftist SDSM party (former communists) of that country with the country's sizable Muslim minority population to undermine the conservative Christian government. Sadly, they were successful.
Obama's ambassador to Macedonia, Jess Baily, and his State Department colleagues at the U.S. Mission in Skopje, whom a Macedonian official described to me as being hardcore leftists in the mold of Barack Obama, have worked closely with the country's leftists. Yet Ambassador Baily is still in place, and the U.S. continues to funnel those millions of dollars to Soros's organizations there and in other countries through its Civil Society Project. Why hasn't President Trump replaced Baily and ended the money flow to Soros and Company? Soros’s organizations are receiving U.S. tax dollars in other countries as well, such as Albania, for the same leftist-fomenting purposes.
Perhaps I was naive to think that the Deep State, the Leviathan of Big Government, could really be brought to heel, even by a brash, successful businessman like Trump, who had zero experience, and even less of a vested interest in, the political world. But the presence in Trump's inner circle of a deep thinker like Bannon with a belief system rooted in the recognition of America’s unique and revolutionary founding principles, which exalted the individual over the state, was cause for hope. I should have remembered that hope was the thing the last guy in the White House was selling.
Has the Deep State really won? I hope my pessimism is unfounded and short-lived. And perhaps Bannon can be more effective from the outside, if rumors are true that he plans to build a media network (Breitbart or otherwise) to replace the increasingly liberal Fox News as the voice of Conservatism. After all, when God closes a door, he opens a window, right? Maybe a window will open from which we can toss the Deep State.
William F. Marshall has been an intelligence analyst and investigator in the government, private and non-profit sectors for over 30 years. Presently he is a Senior Investigator for Judicial Watch, Inc. (The views expressed are the author’s alone, and not necessarily those of Judicial Watch.)