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‘There is a deep state,’ Snowden says, contradicting the liberal press

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Lately, important liberal publications have run pieces saying emphatically that in stark contrast to various Middle East authoritarian countries, there is no such thing as a Deep State in U.S. government. “There Is No Deep State,” is the title of David Remnick’s piece in the New Yorker. There is no “subterranean web of common and nefarious purpose,” he says; rather, individuals in the intelligence agencies are leaking information about Donald Trump because they’re government servants taking action against “an untruthful, vain, vindictive, alarmingly erratic President.”

In the New York Times, Max Fisher makes a very similar argument, and concludes with alarm that Trump is aiming at the “deconstruction of the administrative state” — which is an important check on his power to do harm.

These articles do not address the substantive difference over how to deal with Russia between Trump and establishment figures who at the very least are guilty of group-think. Philip Giraldi argues that the leaks that upended the execrable Flynn at the NSC had this very policy objective: “the officials who shared the phone transcripts [are] much more dangerous than conventional leakers motivated by some personal grievance or desire to right a wrong. I fear that the current crop of Russia skeptics are true believers of the worst kind and will do whatever it takes to disrupt any moves toward rapprochement between Washington and Moscow.”

Today the Intercept has published an excellent interview of Edward Snowden by Jeremy Scahill, conducted at the South by Southwest Festival.

Scahill asked about the deep state issue, and cited the conventional wisdom: “There seems to be an emerging consensus among influential liberal pundits and political figures, politicians in the Democratic Party that there’s this awesome group of NSA people who are protecting the republic from Donald Trump… The Deep State is trying to undermine Donald Trump and really in secret trying to protect us from the dangers of his administration.”

Snowden, appearing by video from Moscow, responded:

It’s half true. I don’t like to say these things are right or wrong, because it’s not black and white. There is a Deep State.

What are we saying when we talk about a Deep State? We’re talking about the people who survive presidents. These are not political appointees who come and go in this office or that office. They’re the people who are senior enough to influence policy, to shape the government’s understanding of an issue, and all the little people under them who are just sort of the worker bees who actually do things– these worker bees by and large are good people, right? I worked at NSA, at CIA for a long time. I strongly disagree with a lot of their policies. Right?

They cause harm, they violate rights, they make us the United States less safe as a nation. And they destabilize peace, not just here at home but around the world, right. That’s not to say everything they do is bad, right.

These worker bees, they’re good people who do bad things for what they consider to be good reasons. There are literally people in the United States who ran torture programs and there are people who actually did the torture. I’m not saying these are good people, right? These are war crimes, uncontroversially. And these people probably did know at the time.

But why did they do it? They did it because they were told there would be blood on their hands, or everybody else’s hands, or people were going to die, or buildings were going to collapse if it wasn’t done. Now I’m not saying that was the right thing to do. But who are the people who bear the most responsibility, right? That’s where you find the deep state. It’s not the guy at the desk! The guy at the desk doesn’t even pick what he’s going to do that day. He’s ordered to do this that or the other.

Follow the chain up. When you go to the White House, when you go one level down to the political appointees– then you go that one step down: political appointees who survive beyond presidents and the people who sort of convert, they roll over from being a political appointee to imbed themselves in the government on a permanent basis. That’s where you see the Deep State. These are the people who are writing the memos that become our laws. These are the people who create the findings and suggestions that say, you know what, torture would work, torture would save lives, even though it didn’t.

It actually gave Al Qaeda and ISIS their greatest propaganda boost that we ever provided them. Because they can say look, the United States is no better than us. Yes we chop heads off, yes we drill holes in hands. But you know what, They do too.

Now of course we aren’t actually beheading people, but we are dousing people in cold water and letting them freeze to death in a cell after we’ve beaten them all day. We had people who had humus in their food actually anally inserted. These people were raped with their dinner as a punishment for noncompliance or noncooperation.

We can say many things, we can talk about moments of passion, we can talk about the loss of rationality in moments of panic. But these are fundamentally un-American things. If there’s one thing we need to remember, it’s that these people have never faced the inside of a courtroom in a criminal trial. George Bush, right, who was sort of the architect of all these programs and authorities, he’s the one who actually gave all these deep staters the legitimacy to construct and carry these things out. This could not have happened without his support.

He’s now being rehabilitated in the  public eye now. He’s this wonderful happy little painter guy. He’s like Bob Ross with an accent. No he’s not. He’s a war criminal.


Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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17 Responses

  1. Keith on March 15, 2017, 6:30 pm

    The “Deep State” is merely a handy term to label what should be obvious. Imperial policy responds to the needs and desires of concentrated domestic and global power. The corporations, the financial people, the MIC, the MSM, etc. The government serves primarily to administer the political economy in the interests of the dominant elites who are loosely organized around Davos, Bilderberg, the Trilateral Commision, the Council on foreign relations, etc. The empire is global and policy relatively consistent over time. I appreciate what Snowden did, however, he is not the most qualified to discuss this. The notion that it all started under Bush is ludicrous.

    • Mooser on March 18, 2017, 5:21 pm

      And asking ‘how deep is the Deep State’ is like asking how deep the water needs to be to drown in.

    • Tuyzentfloot on December 17, 2018, 5:40 pm

      If deep state is just a label then it’s a conspirational concept. When someone has a deep distrust in the state then it’s not such a big leap to suspect invisible players with huge powers running everything.
      The deniers then have a pretty good point when they claim ‘Deep State’ theories are conspirational rubbish.
      But when you start to be specific and pin down the power concentrations, and what they can and cannot do, what their limits are, then it’s valuable journalism. For example this recent piece by Gareth Porter:

  2. JWalters on March 15, 2017, 8:23 pm

    I too noticed the Deep State’s media assuring us the Deep State doesn’t exist. This is the same media that has hidden the facts about the Nakba, Zionism, and Israel for decades, that cooperated in promoting false information and sending Americans to die in a clearly needless war in Iraq, and sabotaged Bernie Sanders’ anti-oligarchy campaign.

    Snowden’s picture of the Deep State is supported by the research of professor Peter Dale Scott. Scott’s scholarly, fascinating look at the Deep State is in this episode of Conversations with History from UC Berkeley.

    A key question is WHO coordinates the government people Snowden talks about? And who coordinates them with the media? As we learned from Deep Throat, “Follow the money”. It takes a LOT money to exert this magnitude of control.

    I had to laugh last night when I heard David Cay Johnston on MSNBZ’s The Last Word say about the press, “It’s our duty to tell the truth about our elected leaders.” O’Donnell and Maddow were earnestly talking about the need to determine if Trump had “divided loyalties” and “financial dependence” on foreigners. They rigorously AVOID these same questions about Israel’s crimes and atrocities, Israel’s “American” citizens, and Israel’s financial clout over American elections.
    e.g. “Let’s talk about Russian influence”

    The common denominator of the Deep State’s activities is to promote war. This is done by routinely sabotaging peace efforts, false flag attacks, and lying to the people (e.g. Bush, Hitler).

    Now the Israeli agents in America (aka “Neocons”) are trying to rev up another needless war for Americans to die in and spend lots of money for the people who run the Deep State.
    “The Kagans Are Back; Wars to Follow”

    A key task today is to inform people that the Deep State has captured the mainstream media. On matters of war and peace the mainstream media simply cannot be trusted. People simultaneously need to learn a few alternative news sources that are professional and honest.

    For readers who haven’t seen it, a brief relevant history is online in “War Profiteers and the Roots of the War on Terror”.

  3. Boomer on March 16, 2017, 4:25 pm

    re Geo. Bush Jr. “He’s now being rehabilitated in the public eye now. He’s this wonderful happy little painter guy. He’s like Bob Ross with an accent. No he’s not. He’s a war criminal.”

    True, he was the criminal-in-chief, but there were plenty of others who should be on trial with him.

  4. Pixel on March 16, 2017, 9:03 pm

    I never thought I’d live to see the day when the Deep State would finally, not just be exposed, but named. Bill Kristol did both in his tweet on Feb 14, 2017:

    “Obviously strongly prefer normal democratic and constitutional politics. But if it comes to it, prefer the deep state to the Trump state.

  5. Pixel on March 16, 2017, 9:35 pm

    The “Deep State” was considered a “conspiracy theory” for decades. I’ve ask myself how many disclosures it takes before people realize that “conspiracy theorists” are often courageous truth tellers, not the delusional nutjobs they are intentionally made out to be.

    Here’s a nano-list of “Conspiracy Theories” that have been proven true.

    1.The Dreyfus Affair

    2.The Mafia

    3. MK-ULTRA

    4.Operation Mockingbird

    5. Manhattan Project

    6. Asbestos

    7. Watergate

    8. Tuskegee Syphilis Study

    9. Operation Northwoods

    10.1990 Testimony of Nayirah (Kuwait)

    11.Counter Intelligence Programs (COINTELPRO)

    12. Iran-Contra Affair

    13. Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) Scandal

    14. CIA Drug Running in LA

    15. Gulf of Tonkin Lie

    16. 1933 Big Business Plot (General Smedley Butler)

    17. Conspiracy to Assassinate Hitler (July 20, 1944)

    18. Operation Ajax

    19. Operation Snow White

    20. Operation Gladio

    21. CIA Assassinations (Church Committee)

    22. New World Order (NWO)

    23. Kennedy Assassination

    24. 1919 World Series Conspiracy

    25. Kerr-McGee (Karen Silkwood)

    26. CIA Drug Smuggling in Arkansas

    27. Bohemian Grove

    28. Operation Paperclip

    29. The Round Table (Cecil Rhode)

    30. Illuminati (founded May 1st, 1776)

    31. Trilateral Commission

    32. Deep State / Shadow Government

    33. Federal Reserve Bank

    34. Fast and Furious

    35. USS Liberty

    • oldgeezer on March 17, 2017, 12:32 am


      Let me throw in echelon.

      While much is made of the current monitoring of the internet by the nsa and five eyes the truth is we have been monitored for over half a century. None of us are trusted as citizens.

      • Mooser on March 18, 2017, 5:15 pm

        19. Operation Snow White

        Under the Supreme Court decision, “Operation Snow White” must be classed as a “Deep Church” and not a “Deep State” operation.

  6. Theo on March 18, 2017, 1:20 pm


    You forgot operation Mickey Mouse, a joint MI and CIA operation during the 1980s!!!

  7. Theo on March 18, 2017, 1:24 pm

    Philip Weiss

    You have computer problems, when I hit Theo above, instead of getting into the list of my comments, I get Theocratic Israel, one of your articles during Oct. 2016!

  8. iResistDe4iAm on March 19, 2017, 9:17 am

    The first rule of Deep State is: There is no deep state.
    The second rule of Deep State: “There Is No Deep State”.
    The third rule of Deep State: If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.
    The fourth rule of Deep State: War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.
    The fifth rule of Deep State: There is no deep state, but if your livelihood depends on it, you have to fight for it.


    Right on cue, the fake liberals of the corporatist media are on the job.

  9. Arby on December 16, 2018, 1:51 pm

    Snowden’s idea of the Deep State, folks, doesn’t include (officially) non government actors like EFF and Silicon Valley. Snowden, who said that people who support old age security are [email protected]$%ing retards, chooses (because he’s smart) to believe that the State and its private sector assets and allies are totally separate. He certainly ignores Corporatocracy. He pushes, along with other fakers like Jacob Appelbaum, Tor, a parallel internet created and funded (which it still does) by the State’s intel community, fooling people into thinking that will save them from the prying eyes of big brother. Until I read Yasha Levine’s (imperfect but dynamite) book, “Surveillance Valley,” I too thought Snowden was a hero.

    Hopefully he’s developed since. But that would take humility, a quality in short supply among people generally. (People think, literally, that they’re God.) I don’t hear much from Edward. The few times I read about him, I noticed that he was hobnobbing with suspicious characters. That was before I read Yasha Levine’s book. We’ll see.

    Don’t have heroes. Or, at least, be prepared to reevaluate if you do have heroes.

    • Tuyzentfloot on December 17, 2018, 4:44 pm

      Snowden is a hero and you wouldn’t recognize a hero if he would show up on your doorstep in a pink tutu. Firstly, it’s a good disguise. Second, you’re making up standards which he’s certain not to live up to. Crappy standards too. Snowden is a hero because he became a whistleblower at great risk to himself. The rest is bonus. If he’s full of himself , that is hard to avoid. You need a lot of confidence to go in against everyone around you.
      And as for his idea of deep state, well the second word is ‘state’. Not private.

      • Arby on January 1, 2019, 12:42 pm

        You’re over emotional and easy to manipulate. If Snowden’s a hero – I’m ambivalent about it and I am willing to see his actions, in regard to his whistleblowing, as heroic – then he’s a very flawed hero. Just attacking me for saying so accomplishes nothing. You missed altogether with your comment about State vs private. I’m not even sure you understood what I said. Believe what you want and I’ll believe what I want.

      • Tuyzentfloot on January 4, 2019, 5:34 am

        Over emotional about what? I guess people flaunting the high standards they hold others to does get on my tits once in a while. This isn’t about Snowden, it’s about standards.

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