National Security and Double Government
a book by Michael J. Glennon
(our site's book review)
"Though it’s a bedrock American principle that citizens can steer their own government by electing new officials, Glennon suggests that in practice, much of our government no longer works that way. In a new book, National Security and Double Government, he catalogs the ways that the defense and national security apparatus is effectively self-governing, with virtually no accountability, transparency, or checks and balances of any kind. He uses the term “double government”: There’s the one we elect, and then there’s the one behind it, steering huge swaths of policy almost unchecked. Elected officials end up serving as mere cover for the real decisions made by the bureaucracy." —Jordan Michael Smith
This aptly summarizes the dilemma faced by American citizens and elected officials alike. Glennon's book sends shivers down our spines as we realize that, apparently, there's nothing we can do about this quandary, now or in the future. The way out of this puzzle is a Maine joke: "you can't get there from here." Can we somehow click our heels together three times and utter "there's no place like home" and then awaken from our nightmare in the comfort of our own beds, secure in the knowledge that our elaborate security and defense establishments are way too smart to allow a de facto takeover by unelected powers? Or are they? In truth, that was the wrong question to ask. Why? Because our elaborate security and defense establishments are in on it, and many of them populate this new shadow government. Of course they didn't "protect" us from this takeover—they are part of the group that DID the takeover.
The ugly truth about the double government is that there are the ass clowns we vote for—the puppets—and the shadow government big wigs who make the decisions—the puppeteers
We've just hit catch-22 (a dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions) territory here, folks. We're in a Roach Motel fix. We can check in but we cannot check out. We cannot "vote" any of them out of their power positions. The Shadow Government answers to no one but the oligarchs that lead it from the shadows. "The United States has, in short, moved beyond a mere imperial presidency to a bifurcated system—a structure of double government—in which even the President now exercises little substantive control over the overall direction of U.S. national security policy."
U.S. neocons' imperialism and warmongering is out of control yet the Congress tasked with stopping such abuses is mute—something smells rotten in Washington! The game is rigged. Bailouts? The biggest companies got help while the little guy got the finger.
Glennon cites a "network of several hundred high-level military, intelligence, diplomatic, and law enforcement officials within the Executive Branch who are responsible for national security policymaking." Who leads them and makes final decisions? We say rich oligarchs such as Dick Cheney. Various authors see the shadow government from various perspectives (like the blind men feeling the elephant), but the overall gist is creepily similar. Of course, citizens are not privy to the leadership structures and global planning of such organizations as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg, the U.S. Business Roundtable, and the World Trade Organization—as well as secret organizations we have yet to hear about, but these seem to form the skeletal structure of the shadow government which has given these corporatocracy fat cats global corporate rule. The oligarchs of the corporatocracy rule these days, thumbing their noses at democratic concerns in not just the U.S. but all other nations as well. Who says so? We do, as do dozens of other knowledgeable sources, such as:
- Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World
- When Corporations Rule the World
- The Rise of the American Corporate Security State
- The Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and the Truth about Global Corruption
- Losing Our Way: An Intimate Portrait of a Troubled America
- The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America--and What We Can Do to Stop It
- The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government
- National Security and Double Government
- A Game As Old As Empire: The Secret World of Economic Hit Men and the Web of Global Corruption
- Hoodwinked: An Economic Hit Man Reveals Why the Global Economy IMPLODED -- and How to Fix It
Various authors see the shadow government from various perspectives—like the blind men and the elephant, but the overall gist is creepily similar
So why are these oligarchs thumbing their noses at democracy? The main reason is so that they can get richer than God (and perhaps become gods, at least in their own minds. We have two words for them: ass clowns and A-holes, but we haven't decided which one fits best. Comments? Why are there so many people willing to divest themselves of the burdens of morality and humanity and simply look out for number one? Well, think about prostitution:
They say that everyone has their price—for enough money ANYONE will whore themselves
As soon as prospective shadow government members find out that once they are in, they are guaranteed great wealth, most ask "Where do I sign?" So what went wrong in their upbringing that they are so eager to be a wealthy fat cat and so unconcerned about the price their conscience (soul?) will have to pay? Study the upbringings of the Bushes, of Cheney, or even of Hitler or Sadam Hussein. Too many things went wrong for them to operate from a context of normal morality, values, standards, compassion, humanity, and conscience. So they become merciless, greedy, backstabbing opportunists. How do they live with themselves? Easy. They learn from other shadow government ass clowns how to rationalize: "The citizenry are stupid sheep—if we were to give them any say in running their affairs, they'd just mess it up, so we take the power and we watch over them as though they were flocks we are tending. Of course, since they're merely sheep, they don't need much. So we take away most of their money and rights and freedoms—what good are they to dumb sheep? We feel okay about all this since it puts control of things in the hands of smart people who will do a good job of running things."
"The citizenry are stupid sheep—if we were to give them any say in running their affairs, they'd just mess it up, so we take the power and we watch over them as though they were flocks we are tending"
Of course, when the world is a mess and the economy is a mess and the environment is a mess and the people are unhappy and the middle class is vanishing, one would have to have a sick sense of humor to call this mess a "good job." However, it turns out that when there are wars, these guys sell weapons to both sides, and war gives their lobbyists the opportunity to convince the military to purchase overpriced new weapons systems, and wars often precipitate other wars which allow even more weapons sales. And when the economy tanks, these guys see it coming because they have inside information, so they profit. But when the economy rises, these guys are getting rich from that as well. Face it—they know how to play the system. When the environment needs cleaning up, guess who owns companies that do this so they profit? Get the idea? Folks—the game is thoroughly rigged—we guarantee it.
The Washington Post in 2011 did a study called “Top Secret America.” It "identified forty-six federal departments and agencies engaged in classified national security work. Their missions range from intelligence gathering and analysis to war-fighting, cyber-operations, and weapons development. Almost 2,000 private companies support this work, which occurs at over 10,000 locations across America. The size of their budgets and workforces are mostly classified, but it is clear that those numbers are enormous—a total annual outlay of around $1 trillion and millions of employees," says Glennon. Or in short, things are getting seriously out of hand, folks. And with all this "security" why do Americans feel less secure? (The 9/11 attack confirmed it—we are less secure.)
World Trade Center bombing of September 11, 2001—this attack confirmed it—we are less secure
When Bush and Obama said their wars on terror may go on indefinitely, you can just imagine these fat cats rolling around in huge money bins laughing just like Scrooge McDuck
Blame avoidance ranks high among the priorities of the hidden government workers. If a threat is analyzed, to make sure that nothing bad happens to the worker if the threat turns into something really bad, the threat is overestimated to cover the workers ass. It's an insurance policy.
The very definition of how bureaucracy operates is CYA (cover your ass) by actually doing nothing to rock any boat
As a result, of all this overestimation, more people are hired to handle this threat and the budget is increased. The very definition of how bureaucracy operates is CYA (cover your ass) by actually doing nothing to rock any boat, but reporting that you're swamped in work—you could use more help, so the bureaucracy keeps getting bigger and more expensive even though most workers are doing as little as possible because they do not want to stick out because they suscribe to the prevailing conformist mentality found in all bureaucracies (whose unspoken objective is preservation of the status quo—which makes everyone risk-adverse), and if they were getting a lot done, human resources would fire some workers and the worker would look like a teacher's pet and like he was currying favoritism, so other workers would stab him in the back and make this troublemaker look bad so he would lose his job before anyone found out that the backstabbers were basically do-nothing go-along-to-get-along deadwood.
Hence the whistleblowers and hard workers and the workers that are saving the bureaucracy money are let go, while the deadwood chairwarmers stay in place, going along to get along. You can see why those that had evidence ahead of time that 9/11 was probable would have a tendency to keep their mouthes shut. They needed to not stick out so they didn't lose their jobs. They needed to cover their asses so they didn't lose their jobs. They needed to not appear to curry favor so they didn't lose their jobs. They needed to refrain from rocking the boat so they didn't lose their jobs.
On the other hand, they needed to overestimate so those they report to are informed and yet if it turns out to be nothing, everyone needs their asses covered so they didn't lose their jobs. They need to avoid causing a false alarm since those they report to will look for someone to blame and if they get blamed they may lose their jobs. So they're between a rock and a hard place. So the cycle repeats itself, because, as mentioned, blame avoidance ranks high among the priorities of the hidden government workers. It is prioritized higher than getting a job done, higher than doing a good job, higher than ones reputation with other workers, higher than keeping our country safe, etc.
Blame avoidance ranks high among the priorities of the hidden government workers
The author differs from us in that he believes that the double government evolution has no unjust intent; it ". . . has not been purposeful. America’s dual national security framework has evolved gradually in response to incentives woven into the system’s structure." We believe that, for the reasons stated earlier that are mostly about greed, it assuredly WAS on purpose. And we needn't supply the Justice Department any extra rationale for making excuses for the shadow government ass clowns if someday some of them find themselves prosecuted for their shady dealings. Those ass clowns will have more excuses than a pregnant nun when the time comes. No use adding to them.
In the U.S., the 1% people get 99% and the 99% people (us) get 1%. Is it fair we get leftover scraps and they pig out?
The powerful ruling elite are grabbing much of the wealth of the middle class and lining their pockets with it and there is no one we could ever vote for that would change this sad state of affairs. Add this to the horrific toll Bush's and Obama's wars have taken on our country, our spirit, our hopes, our people, and our national debt picture and you have something infinitely more egregious than a quirk of government structure that they did not evolve "on purpose." So, then, we give the shadow government a pass on their "accident" as we hear them say: "Oops—it slipped."?
The powerful ruling elite are grabbing much of the wealth of the middle class and lining their pockets with it and there is no one we could ever vote for that would change this sad state of affairs
Glennon tells us that "The Presidency, Congress, and the courts appear to set national security policy, but in reality their role is minimal. They exercise decisional authority more in form than in substance. This is the principal reason that the system has not, as advertised, self-corrected." This seems naive to us. Self-correction, once the huge monetary rewards started rolling into oligarch coffers, was about as likely as the Pope supporting a woman's right to choose. It's almost like Glennon thinks the whole double government thing is just a bureaucratic quirk, a victimless crime, a systemic bug that can be reversed. The ramifications of the shadow government are far-reaching, international, tragic, deadly, heinous, and detestable. The author needs to read The Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and the Truth about Global Corruption.
The author admits that the secret-government-supporting judges are selected by Presidents because they will support secret government laws, philosophies, projects, programs, and departments. An obscene case in point is the Citizens United case. "Today, five conservative activist Supreme Court Justices presided over the murder of our Republic and gave birth to the new 'corporatocracy' in Citizens United v. FEC. It is nominally a First Amendment case, but it is so much more than that. This opinion will enter the pantheon of the worst decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court, cases wrongly decided in favor of the wealthy and powerful ruling elite." (Source: Conservative activist Supreme Court gives birth to the new “corporatocracy” in Citizens United v. FEC)
The shadow government has been caught with its pants down a few times, such as when "Over the Trumanites’ (national security state apparatus of the double government) objections, the courts permitted publication of the Pentagon Papers that revealed duplicity, bad faith, and ineptitude in the conduct of the Vietnam War." See Pentagon Papers.
Glennon says that "An unrestrained security apparatus has throughout history been one of the principal reasons that free governments have failed." The double government can do more than give gargantuan corporate bailouts: it can kill, arrest, jail, hear or read citizens’ private words and actions, instill fear or suspicion, quash investigations, quell speech, shape or stop public debate, and it even has the power to hide its nefarious deeds and evade its spineless overseers. It holds, in short, the power of irreversibility. No democracy worthy of the name can allow such awesome power to escape the control of the people, he says. And he is right, as we all know.
Heroic NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has demonstrated the type of courage and wisdom we all need to aspire to
The mainstream press mostly just prints administration press releases; the actual investigative journalism going on died in the 1980s as the shadow government insisted on the press conforming to the party line
And much of the press marches in lock-step with the shadow government, not because they want to, but because they must. The author sees that the invisible government acts to "crush vigorous investigative journalism and to prosecute and humiliate whistleblowers and to equate them with spies under the espionage laws. National security documents have been breathtakingly over-classified." One of our greatest heroes is Edward Snowden, and yet he is stuck holed up in Russia because he exposed the egregious lies of the national security state segment of the shadow government. See Bravehearts: Whistle-Blowing in the Age of Snowden.
Snowden said that "I didn't want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself. All I wanted was for the public to be able to have a say in how they are governed."
Snowden said that in the past, whistleblowers had been "destroyed by the experience," and that he wanted to "embolden others to step forward" by demonstrating that "they can win." In October, Snowden spoke out again on his motivations for the leaks in an interview with The New York Times, saying that the system for reporting problems does not work. "You have to report wrongdoing to those most responsible for it," Snowden explained, and pointed out the lack of whistleblower protection for government contractors, the use of the 1917 Espionage Act to prosecute leakers, and his belief that had he used internal mechanisms to "sound the alarm," his revelations "would have been buried forever." (Source: Edward Snowden.) But 70% of those age eighteen to thirty-four believed that Edward Snowden “did a good thing” in leaking the news of the NSA’s surveillance program. That is encouraging.
Glennon's book is repetitive, but worse than that, it makes lots of excuses for Obama and for the shadow government as well. He says that Obama's many policy reversals were forced on him, and yet he admits that if he'd forced the issue, he'd have made enemies everywhere in Washington but he could have gotten his way. The logic of the situation is obvious: he chose to guard his reputation and sell out, extending the evil, useless, expensive, murderous, dangerous war rather than stopping it like he promised, give the rich tax breaks he promised he wouldn't, give the rich companies bailouts the public said no to, and a whole slew of other such sellouts. A statesman would have bit the bullet and kept his promises. But Obama is no statesman. He did what any soulless bureaucrat would have done: sell out and go along to get along. Not only did he not walk the talk, he did the opposite of what he promised. Apparently Glennon is too much of a liberal to call Obama on his cowardice.
Dubya Bush the Liar lied us into the illegal Iraq invasion
Obama—the Liar-in-Chief, Not the Statesman He Promised He'd Be
Ultimately, Glennon says, the most important check on public officials is, as James Madison put it, “virtue and intelligence in the community . . . .” Institutional constraints are necessary but not sufficient for the survival of liberty, Madison believed; they cannot be relied upon absent a body politic possessed of civic virtue. And therein lies the rub—U.S. civil society is in deep trouble. (See Bowling Alone and Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis.) The forces that united people in viable civic society in the 1800s and part of the 1900s are no longer prevalent. Instead, forces that diminish and erode and ignore community and civic values dominate in the 21st century. See Why Do We Need Communities? and The Responsive Communitarian Platform and Building a Community of Citizens: Civil Society in the 21st Century.
The author asks "should the United States, as a matter of governmental policy, actively cultivate civic virtue of the sort that permits a robust, single institutional structure of government?" He says governmental efforts to instill greater civic virtue would never work, but that institutional restoration can come only from an "energized body politic."
Like most authors on shadow government, he sees no conspiracy. However, he sees no unjust intent or machinations on the part of the members of the double government. But most authors do see these. He says the double government evolved "in response to structural incentives." This is definitely the most benign view of shadow government realities yet (comparing Glennon-think to the other shadow government books listed previously). We have no knowledge pertaining to the author's cautiously benign stance on the American tragedy known as the shadow government. Logically, it could be because he does not wish to risk jeopardizing his cozy position in academia. His book wouldn't do that in today's world—but he might be thinking about the national climate if a mushroom cloud appeared over Manhattan someday. If the NSA discovers his name on a list of people critical of the shadow government, does this earn him a free ticket to an internment camp? Discretion is the better part of valor.
(Our sense of the matter is that he needn't worry. Over the past decade, mainstream press like The New York Times have run shadow government articles, millions have read books about it and seen TV shows or videos on it or heard it on the radio, and millions more have blogged, posted, and commented on it, and books on the subject have gotten reviewed by Publishers Weekly, Boston Herald, Rocky Mountain News, Library Journal, Huffington Post, Washington Post, The Guardian, Boston Magazine, Vienna Review, The Ecologist, Metro, The Independent on Sunday, New Statesman, and many more. Not to mention there are lots of published shadow government books—some by mainstream publishers. The cat isn't just out of the bag, it's out of the country—most likely on extended vacation. The secret is out and it's quickly becoming part of general knowledge. There's way too much supporting evidence for the shadow government to convince people the whole thing is the rantings of paranoid conspiracy theorists. [No author of shadow government books or articles believes that shadow government is part of a conspiracy.] No, the NSA sees the talking and writing and blogging, about how rotten our corrupt government is—which half the country is doing, as a necessary release valve for an unhappy populace who have gotten shafted too many times by the politicians, corporations, bankers, fat cats, and government. So what the NSA and FBI will be seeking are those making rebellious plans—especially violent ones, or those calling or emailing or befriending such rebels, and of course every lead they can on terrorists and those supporting them or agreeing with them or living with them. NONE of the writers and posters and bloggers about shadow government excesses has ever fit into any of these categories, to our knowledge. All—including former "economic hit man" John Perkins—are pro-U.S., pro-society, pro-people, pro-world, and trying their best to make the world a better place by suggesting ways we can help our country and our corporations find their way back to the righteous path upon which they used to walk.)
The path of knowledge is recommended by Erich Fromm who said it would be better to rely less on government planning and social engineering and more on movements and science and humanism
To Glennon, the double government slowly evolved as a structural inevitability when the visible, up-front institutions of government seemed less than equal to the tasks that needed doing. So they installed functional workarounds to avoid the frustrations of dodging the traffic of elected and appointed personnel of the democracy. Efficient, yes, but ethical, no.
Cheating and fraud and misrepresentation and end-running is a helluva way to run a railroad, but an ever worse way to run a democracy. If things are too ponderous or complex, find creative ways to use democratic institutions to address that. Do not insult the Founders and the citizens by turning visible government into a fraudulent facade and invisible government into the new s.o.p.!
Shadow Government: Cheating and fraud and misrepresentation and end-running is a helluva way to run a railroad, but an ever worse way to run a democracy
It is easy to make a case for double government evolution by citing the elitist nature of a good many dwellers of the upper, more powerful levels of U.S. government. They believe they're more important than Joe Six-pack, more educated, more informed, more connected, and more ambitious (and therefore richer). So they formed an invisible government of people who were in a better position to run things than We, The People whom they thought of as something between uninformed bumpkins and dumb sheep. There may not be a consent of the governed for all these back room shenanigans, but then—in elite-think—the sheep wouldn't understand it anyway so why bother them with it? (Are they considerate or what?) Of course, the Founders thought that this is what Congressional Representatives were for: to study the complexities and vote in our interests in Congress. Silly them! The term representatives has become a misnomer, since they do not represent us, but kiss corporatocracy butts instead—you see what money can buy?
There's also a case to be made for underspecialization of the citizens and appropriate specialization of the shadow dwellers. If the activities of government have gotten so complex that input from ignorant citizenry would serve only to contaminate the purity of the needed logic, then is it not a public service to spare the public from having to deal with such things—for their own good (of course)?
So what is the point of putting on the pretense of democracy if "government of and by and for the people" has actually evolved into "government of and by and for the shadow government"? But they tell us their actions are "for the people." (E.g., the NSA says they spy on us "for our own good," but we're not buying it—Snowden was right!) Many of us have looked that "for our own good" idea in the face and then at the way the rich are robbing the citizens and stealing our rights and our privacy while the middle class sinks sorrowfully into the lower class and we say—in a chorus—"Yeah, right!!!" People—even "sheep"—are not blind. The 99% are 100% clear on who the shadow government ass clowns are benefitting: the 1%. We've all been led down the garden path about that one for years but public opinion polls and surveys and the Occupy Wall Street protest all speak with one voice: "Fool us once—shame on them, fool us for decades—shame on us."
We've been led down the garden path, failing to see that there's a sinkhole up ahead on this path—and it's miles deep
Limitless greed has led the Oligarchy in charge to keep squeezing more and more money from us—folks, this a truly a shakedown
Finally, when the author says that institutional restoration can come only from an "energized body politic," what is he envisioning besides more education, informed citizens, and responsibility? (Our communities are mostly dysfunctional or nonexistent.) He says that Erich Fromm saw people handing their responsibilities over to authorities to escape from having to face the anxiety producing act of thinking for themselves. (Fromm concluded in The Revolution of Hope that for true democracy to exist, it would require autonomous, free-thinking, informed, responsible citizens, but since we do not have these, it would be better to rely less on government planning and social engineering and more on movements and science and humanism and forming of subcommunities of people who have character, deep convictions, are loving, are knowledgeable in relationship wisdom, and are great examples to emulate for the rest of society. He just described microcommunities—MCs.) Fromm wrote this in 1968—he was WAY ahead of his time.
C. Wright Mills' The Power Elite warned that authorities with a common world view that operate in secret produces a permanent war economy—never truer than in the 21st century. Eisenhower warned us about the military-industrial complex. "The potential for the
disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” John Adams warned that "The nation which will not adopt an equilibrium of power must adopt a despotism." We have nothing close to equilibrium, so the shadow government is our despotism of absolute power, since the visible governmental structures have apparent power, but little actual power.
Glennon wonders aloud: "What form of government ultimately will emerge from the United States’ experiment with double government is uncertain. The risk is considerable, however, that it will not be a democracy." (Nor is it a democracy now, in function, so it might serve better to wonder where we will go from our current oligarchy. See The US is an oligarchy, study concludes. Our guess: a revised, modernized Feudalism.)
We live in an oligarchy that is slipping inexorably toward feudalism