Here’s the article that alleges it, though there have been a few to have made this claim.
This prospect – a President elected democratically, but opposed by the deep state, who then sets up his own private counter-intelligence – is fascinating as hell!
I am more and more coming to believe that on top of every moral failing, systemic institutional failure, and arrogant blundering incompetent action, the main problem with our world today is the presence of covert operators. People who can devote resources to controlling what information the public receives and how they receive it, is a big deal. People who can control what gets financed, and what doesn’t – they’re part of this phenomenon. These people also have the ability, in many cases it seems, to act around and outside of the law fairly consistently.
The problem with the “conspiracy world view” often boils down the the complaint, “but wouldn’t someone say something?” What this notion fails to recognize is that life is complex, and anything you do – especially beyond yourself – takes tremendous resources. Public information – news – isn’t something that just happens. News before mass media was called rumor and hearsay. It was sporadic, exaggerated, and inaccurate. Mass media created a sense, among the public, that they understood a thing or two about the world at large. But notice, it created that sense. Without funded, active journalism, there would be no sense of the world at large. See the problem?
If you have three news organizations, one is crowd sourced and staffed by heroically competent journalists, and two are funded by wealthy patrons and staffed with incompetent ideologues, which information channel will win? Even the “good” agency will face limits in terms of what information it can actually gather, and get out there.
Academic types often criticize conspiracy theories on the basis of not wanting to buy into ideas for which there isn’t firm evidence. But this is an awful conceit, and one reserved for the hoity-toity world of academic hierarchy and competition – and the intellectual culture that proceeds from it. To say that a theory must not be treated as true, because it is based only in circumstantial evidence, is almost like saying a theory is not true simply because the evidence for it doesn’t exist. That is, you are asserting something isn’t true without rigorous evidence that proves it isn’t.
This isn’t some game of proving the negative. It’s not like we’re trying to prove God doesn’t exist.
Take the JFK assassination. Can we prove there was more than one shooter? No, we don’t have enough evidence for it. Can we prove that there’s not doubt that Lee Harvey Oswald did it alone? No! There are inconsistencies of evidence that clearly show that this cannot be proved conclusively. Does the evidence strongly lean one way or the other? Maybe, but then that’s all anyone can say – it leans that way.
This is the problem – the poison pill – that “academistry” inserts into our dialogue about how the world works. Basically, unless you can pony up the cash to get the backing from major, expensive institutions to prove your desired worldview, then it’s not treated as reality.
This has two effects. First, world views that aren’t backed by funding don’t make it out into the public imagination. Second, world views that are backed by funding end up being accepted by the public and institutions even when they are clearly wrong.
Thus, it is my belief that – while I’m not saying conspiracy theories are true in the way the theorists present them – the world might work very differently than how we imagine. It’s like looking at something like a flower petal, then using a microscope to discover that the whole thing is actually a composite of millions of cells that have complex inter-relationships. It’s the difference between a superficial understanding of the world – where we apply superstition and witch doctoring (for example: belief that there’s an American republic whose army spread peace and freedom throughout history) to fill the gaps – and a “more accurate” view where our ability to act within and change outcomes is enhanced.
I think the world is a very corrupt place. I’m not trying to be cynical. I imagine that most business works through patronage. Especially important business.
Consider this: capitalism, is it Pepsi vs. Coke? That’s business competition, right? America! More free than that USSR!
But what about the company that provides electrical power to the regions’ industrial manufacturing plants? Which is more essential to the economy? Energy? Or cola?
See where I’m going with this?
What kind of competition does or doesn’t exist for regional power utilities? Education? Healthcare? Mining? Heavy manufacturing? Legal services? Housing? Land use? Media? News? Finance?
But yay! I just took out a half-million dollar loan to open a cupcake cafe! Capitalism!
Shark Tank: I just purchased shares of a firm that makes widgets which help you store more shoes in your closet! Capitalism! Business!
In a marketplace, you pay input costs to obtain resources. I believe that part of those costs must include the material costs of physically competing for access to resources with other people. Violence, mafia-behavior, and even the state are all essential parts of the market. We should expect what is called “corruption” but is really just “the market”, just about everywhere.
The state substitutes “law” for violence, creating a bubble of a “free market”, in order to lower its enforcement and protection costs over non-essential resources. The tax is an abstraction over resources like labor and innovation, that the state extracts in lieu of actually trying to manage those resources directly. And the states uses its power to guarantee access to essential resources like territory, the right to tax, or even just things like essential minerals.
The state is a mafia or slaver gang that innovated a concept of law and taxation. Interestingly, state power is often proportional to the amount of freedom it can afford its subjects (efficient slave ownership).
While this raises concerns for libertarian theory, it needn’t be a deathspell. We can include the “taxed masses” as economic actors in the violence game as well, and assume that with sufficient economic development, violence can be “priced out” of the market altogether. That’s my hope.
Meantime, what we (the public, the “taxed masses”, the ruled) face is an information problem.
Democracy, free markets, and so forth, are tools to help us assert rights against potential rulers. Democracy shouldn’t ever be conceived – by libertarians – as form of government. Rather, it’s a check against rulers.
Democracy – not the principle of voting to then make decisions in society – but rather, the principle of the public having some means of holding rulers accountable and vetoing their actions, is important. We should build up our “demos” institutions in civil society.
Critical to this is some kind of public counter-intelligence product. We – the public, that is, the open forum of public dialogue – need to know what the hell games our rulers are playing.
Why was the CIA getting GIs addicted to heroin in Vietnam in the early 70s? Why does David Petraeus want our dishwashers to be able to spy on us?
We need to have this information in our public discussion. This is the problem. The news media is (probably) controlled, and won’t spend the resources to “dig into” these answers. It’s a resource problem. It’s not about them “covering it up”, it’s about – man, finding out the information is tough, who’s going to pony up to get it, and who’s going to pony up the cash it takes to get the public’s attention?
It’s doubly hard when operators are assassinating whistle blowers, when local police bend over for federal agents, when the IRS can be summoned to audit and ruin dissenters who did nothing wrong, and so on, and so forth.
I’m therefore thrilled at the idea of Trump setting up his own counter-intelligence program to compete against the deep state.
The theory here is that a balance of power between violence users makes violence more costly. It costs more because there’s an escalation of force. All parties have an incentive to resort to less-violent means. They might not have as high profits or power, in the end, but it will cost less on the balance then having to have open war (let’s imagine).
But there are limits to balance of power as a positive mechanism.
Early 20th century politics in America is a story of two competing factions of industrialists, who increasingly sought to use government power to shore up and protect their wealth. This so-called progressive era saw these factions employing government fiats against each other so that only one would have all the power in the end. In WWII, one faction grew dominant, and absorbed the other in what was to be a mutually beneficial deal (take over the world economy by winning WWII).
The problem with balance of power is that sometimes the balance is thrown off. One side seizes the moment to win forever. The other side violently lashes out to survive and regain the balance.
We would need, therefore, a more enduring solution than “Team Trump Patriot Blackwater Spooks” vs. “SJW CIA Globalist Spooks”.
We need a “democratic” solution. We need public counter-intelligence.
I can think of a few ways to pull this off. First – no more national security letters. No more blanket federal authority on the basis of “national security”. Local cops should be allowed to investigate the FBI, the FBI the CIA, and so forth.
Time limits should be set on classified data. What are the oldest documents that are still classified? I know the answer, but actually I suspect that it might itself be classified, so I don’t think I could say – I’m not certain (CYA).
Why would really old documents still be classified? Methods? Really? How about, the government did embarrassing and illegal things in the past, and is covering them up? It’s seems more likely to me (I don’t actually know for sure).
There should be a very near time horizon on classification. Basically, the government’s secrecy prerogative should extend only to what is operational, and not further. The precise how, only so long as how is actually occurring (deprecated methods, troop movements long past).
And as for the comparative advantage this gives “the enemy” (guys like Putin). Well, come on CIA, why not leak his stuff, huh? Send Putin’s stuff to Wikileaks if you’re so upset about your stuff being public.
If America is truly a democratic society, our intelligence services should basically be like Wikileaks. They should spend more time uncovering all secrets, everywhere, for the public good, than keeping their own.
Our journalistic and academic mentalities need to become more conspiratorial. Institutions should be forced to prove that they’re not engaged in alleged conspiracies. Failure to provide such proof should more or less be treated as admission of guilt. THAT should be our society’s attitude.
And we should have laws that allow private intelligence firms, and journalists alike, to sue to access information of government agencies. That protect whistle blowers. That take away penalties for revealing secrets (keeping them is the government’s responsibility, so by the time they lose them, the jig is up).
Yes, this is my pipe dream. However, we’re doomed until and unless we can get to this point. Otherwise, society’s progress is just a wave, man, and we’re just surfing it. No sense trying to change anything or make it better.
Because, as the famous JFK meme says: “Things are more f—ed than you f—ing realize.”