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tv   The Idea of Deep State in American History  CSPAN  January 5, 2020 2:15pm-4:03pm EST

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so the careful planning of months bears fruit, and men who knew the battlefield but a few short hours back, knew the pain, the suffering, now know the care, the comfort, and the hope that the best in modern medicine can bring. ♪ americane watching history tv all week every weekend on c-span3. history tv,merican historians present talks about the concept of the "deep state." generally arguing it is not a new idea. topics range about recent books to president eisenhower to j edgar hoover's tenure at the fbi. this is part of the society for >> good morning, everybody.
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and welcome to the society for historians of american foreign relations 2019 conference on this, the longest day of the year. hopefully this panel will not be the longest panel of the year. i'm aaron. i teach u.s. military history and foreign policy the university of texas at austin. i'm pleased to be chairing this panel today on the deep state. joining me here to talk about i think this quite important topic are three fantastic historians, all of whom study politics and power in american history. professor beverly of yale university. professor dirk bonker of duke university. and professor michael j allen of northwestern university. i'm going to set the stage with four or five minutes of introductory remarks and will introduce each panelist visually before they speak. just 15, 20 minutes apiece and then we will open the floor to discussion in this roundtable. so we are here today to talk about the origins and the effects of this thing we call the deep state.
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it is important to say at the outset what historians always like to say. this is not really new. today, we call it the deep state. in earlier eras, activists talked about the washington establishment, the power elite, the system, and even the military-industrial complex. even though those terms have varied throughout the ages, they
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usually share a lot in common. so the arguments that typically accompany these terms about the deep state or the washington system, they are almost always conspiratory. they almost always talk about a cabal within the government that is working in secret to drive policy towards their own ends, the cabal's own end, not the good. the people in the deep state seem to range all over the map, depending on the politics of whomever is talking. they can be the intelligence
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agencies, the cia, the fbi, the military, the national security council, the bankers, and the globalists, the fossil fuel companies, or unspecified elites. but they almost always have or are pursuing some sort of effort that undermines the government. the message over and over again is that this cabal is either illegitimate itself, it is making the government illegitimate, or it is in cahoots with illegitimate unelected forces, and those bad actors must be opposed and uncovered for the nation to return to its true course. one of the things i always found interesting about it is the arguments really span the
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political divide in this red and blue state america. you can find common usage of the deep state on both sides. today, we are mostly about it from president trump and his allies in the republican party who want to cast out some motivations on the law enforcement agency, the fbi, judges, at times the cia. but it was not too long ago when left-wing critics were alleging there was a deep state alliance between, say, halliburton and the oil companies and the white house that was ostensibly driving policy in iraq and even afghanistan. so where did these terms come from? what were the earlier analogues? did they come from the united states? were they imported from outside
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the united states? perhaps the most important question by my light, even more important than asking where they came from is where they are going and what deeper coach will commence are empowering and propelling these arguments forward, giving them force? historians usually like to look for underlying structure, for specific events or key arguments. what persistent or common conditions exist over time that produce a common response? even if it has different names
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and in different places. that's basically what we are going to do with our introductory remarks here today. we have three historians here who will speak for about 15 minutes each, and then we will open the floor to the audience and have a roundtable discussion on the deep state. so our first panelist is michael j allen. he is associate professor of history at northwestern university, where he researches the history, memory, and politics of american empire in the 20th century. he is the author of "until the last man came home: pows, mias, and the unending vietnam war," which export the legacies of american defeat in the vietnam war in u.s. politics and
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diplomacy. and i just want to add after teaching it this past semester for the first time, it taught me an enormous amount about the strange legacies of the p.o.w. flags icy in every cemetery and parade i go two. i learned a lot about john mccain and ross perot, too. thank you for that book. michael is currently working on a book called new politics, the imperial presidency. the pragmatic left and the problem of democratic power, 1933 to 1981, which offers the first in-depth study of how debates sparked by involvement in vietnam altered the very structure and terms of the post-world war ii u.s. politics and foreign policy. so michael is going to start us off with some remarks on how the legacies of distrust from the cold war era actually shape the conversation on the deep state
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today. michael? michael: thank you. i would just like to start by thanking aaron for stepping in. our original chair and commentator, robert dean, is unable to be here due to a family emergency that call him away. aaron was generous enough to join us today. and i'm sure he will have many valuable insights to our conversation later. let me get started so we have plenty of time to have that conversation.
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my task here i think is in part to lay out the current conversation about the deep state in the united states and to talk a little bit about american thinking on this problem of state power, particularly in the post-world war ii era, and how it led us to our present moment. in his recent book "the deep state: how would army of bureaucrats protected barack obama and is working to destroy the trump agenda," former chairman of the house mitty on oversight and government reform retired congressman the the subject as a permitted class of democrats, republicans, federal bureaucrats, and entrenched washington, d.c., and corridor
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insiders trying to weaponize everything in their power to destroy president trump. aided by trump's endorsement over twitter, his ex debuted at number seven on the new york times best seller list where enjoyed another book, "the russia hoax," which debuted at number one on the list and has spent 10 weeks there. and jeanine pirro "liars, leakers, and liberals: the case against the antitrust conspiracy," which also debut number one and spent 13 weeks on the list. these are just three of the many many books that have been published by trump insiders, supporters, fox news analysts, and the like over the past 18 months or so. these three titles, which were all on the new york times best selling list at the same time in the fall of 2018 improved upon the general course he's improving the deep state, the fight to save president trump, which spent three weeks on the new york times list earlier in 2018.
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it also includes leading media and intelligentsia that dominates the global economy and geopolitics. as jason put it, u.s. presidents come and go. political parties win one election and lose the next, but the deep state goes on. it is the state within a state. what from calls, the swamp, or at other times, simply the elite. these ideas are broadly understood. the march 2018 poll showed just 37% of americans had heard of the deep state or were familiar with that nomenclature. however, it also showed that three quarters of americans believe there was "a group of unelected government and military officials would equally manipulate or direct national policy."
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the broad distrust of such people helps make trump president. it is fundamental to all he does. from his hatred of the press to his disdain for traditional allies and security and trade agreements to his embrace of rogue regimes to his open contempt for diplomacy or even civility. in trump's estimation, the powers that be have bullied, bankrupted, and belittled him and his people for too long. his presidency represents their comeuppance. however reductive, this is a systemic view of power in its operation in the world and america. trump has upended politics. since the nixon election, republicans supported themselves on their close ties to the nation's armed forces and it's national security agency's while blasting democrats as weak on defense. democrats have tried to disprove such things. both bill clinton and barack obama have at times conceded the case to their republican opponents by regularly
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appointing republicans as secretary of defense and naming republican holdovers to head the fbi and cia. the cia which corsi locates as "the center of an extraconstitutional deep state that controls both parties." this tendency to follow in republican footsteps on display in obama's decision to keep robert gates as the secretary of defense despite his services as george bush senior's cia director and his oversight of george bush junior's wars in iraq and afghanistan. along with keeping robert mueller on the bip report it was possible for the idea of a private security establishment in the present moment. former republican congressional staffer put it in his 2016 book "the deep state," did hope change anything? it is a question that sarah palin famously said after, how
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did the whole hope and change thing work out for you? it is a surprise to see a republican president embroiled in such conflict with the national security bureaucracy, including fbi director james comey, who trump fired soon after taking office, secretary of state mattis, and former cia director john brennan, who trump threatened to strip of his secret clearance after brennan repeatedly accused trump of treason along with the aforementioned mueller and his after mentioned administration. mueller and his witchhunt of the administration. 's hostility surprised official washington more than anyone. when president-elect took to twitter to needle brennan for what trump called an intelligence briefing on the so-called russian hacking, suggesting more time was needed to build a case, and then minority leader chuck schumer took to him is -- msnbc to warn them. let me tell you, if you take on
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the intelligence community, they have six ways to sunday getting back at you. unbowed ands democrats have no plan for bringing him to heal. heel which really underscores the question, who rules washington, elected officials or washington bureaucrats. on super bowl sunday, 2017, trump answered critics who accused me of -- accused him of overly close ties to vladimir putin by retorting "you think our country is so innocent? our country does plenty of killing." this frank admission of the bloody truth cause the ranking democrat on the house intelligence committee adam
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schiff to sputter "this is inexplicably bizarre as it is untrue. does he not see the damage he does with comments like that?" , trump does,dly but he calculates the damage is to washington bureaucrats. hiseter dale scott wrote in 2015 book "the american deep work," the sole scholarly on the subject, though we made to be eight -- may debate how scholarly it is -- it is to condition americans to accept security measures at home. enlists those who teach voters to think in these terms that were once reserved for via his owninars reality show theatrics, but these ideas predate trump.
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they explain his rise more than his rise explains them. the deep state makes sense to trump voters. it accounts for the pronounced economic inequality and explains how and why the privileged and powerful profited so handsomely in the their failures iraq war and the global financial crisis. bifurcated the system where they are unable to address the basic need support near american spirit finally explains why in search and political movements have come themselves stymied at every turn, defined as illegitimate and un-american by government insiders who insurgents do not respect, that cannot the flight
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-- deflect. while such frustrations have become more acute. it is the existence of the national security state. distrust of centralized executive power defined responses to franklin roosevelt's managerial approach in the 1930's and 1940's. which conservatives like senator robert cap mourned put the -- theed put the state -- country on a slippery slope to security state. they lacked to be cold war consensus required for the promise of social democracy offered in the new deal. in the 1956 book "the power
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elite" argued that american power had become concentrated among a small cadre of executive decision-makers, the ones who decide, who operated according to what he called a military definition of reality. small groups that were inaccessible to the public rather than to paint this in economic terms. he says the interlocking and overlapping nature of corporate and state power. on wallngton as well as street in west point, he argued a small group of men gained power through appointments rather than electric -- elections. with the power and challenged in congress, where the differences between the two parties are very narrow and mixed up.
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his contemporaries soon coined the phrase good the establishment," the antecedent to the deep state to disturb .his -- describe this william f buckley may have been the first to use this, admitting that his audience was confused by his meeting, but he borrowed the term from a british journalist to use it in 1955 to describe a matrix of official in social relations within which power is exercised, a web of associations so deep he said that they did not need to be articulated. he referred in his work to what he called the executive establishment, the military establishment, the permanent war establishment and the national establishment in his book. the establishment is a general term for those who hold the principal measure of power
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irrespective of what administration occupies the white house. was theect description republican called to service in a democratic administration or vice versa. they were the pivotal figures who made possible cold war consensus. for mills, gall brave, and contemporary revisionist historians busy redefining u.s. to emphasizestory continuity in consensus, there was something inherently suspect about such shape shifters who won power not just by contested elections but forging consensus closed doors. these men raised a new generation of new left scholars and academics learn to
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scrutinize washington establishment. claimed figures , who led twoundy democratic presidents to disaster in vietnam. while conservatives blamed henry for what foolish left lay called the convergence between the republican and parties to eliminate foreign policy from political campaigns. but both of these sides, buckley and shapley, agreed the only way to fix the broken system of miss governance and establish greater democracy in america was to abolish the parties -- about us
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political party stalemate in favor of two genuine party centered around issues and essential values. both sides set out to do just that. the left liberal reformers stripped cold war democrats through power through interparty reforms while conservatives purged conservatives from their ranks. all of this was backed up by liberals who launched at decade ending withof angry the church committee hearings in 1975, which dragged deep state 30 laundry into the harsh light of public scrutiny. neocons lost tribe of wandering in the wilderness of figures like jimmy carter and ronald reagan. but it sheltered in place within
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the security state it helped to build, uncovering down into what we might call the deep state to defend its guiding presence despite more partisan rhetoric, only to emerge with new power after 9/11, although perhaps with no greater public legitimacy. to conclude, what takeaway does this history offer? can teachurse diplomatic historians? i would like to offer three thoughts. i hope to elaborate on these and q&a. first, public distrust of the national security state is not new. nor is it limited to the political french. the persistence of the public debate on the role of the looks poorest and foremost to internal dynamics. third and finally, this history illustrates the danger that
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.mpire poses to democracy trump's rise to power feeds on the same fears of unchangeable revisionist power. unlikely it is that trump will address the conditions that give rise to those fears, there is a broader loss of faith in american democracy. empire as aude with way of life -- imperialism has our irreducible meaning. the loss of control over essential views and issues. in that fundamental sense to continue the proper cost of empire is not tabulated in debt or the loss of resources but be lost vitality as citizens.
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we grant sovereignty to the establishment, those in and out priorityment who order relationships around the world. in a democracy the citizens are supposed to be the establishment, but by describing in ascribinge -- our governments to vague shapes in the corridors of power we limit ourselves to choosing minor variations and foster and illusion that appointing different people will bring change that never comes. it's an analysis that is as much about where we are and how we got here, but offers no easy solutions how to get out. thank you. [applause] >> thank you michael. speaker is associate bonker from duke
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university. he is the author of "militarism the," third world age which talks about the transnational culture of military elites on both sides of the atlantic. he is currently working on a book on the history of militarism as a concept and in a way that is perhaps connected to his first book his remarks will give us background on the transaction -- transnational elements of this notion of the deep state. bonker: thank you. i first encountered this while editing a book where there was a previous persuasive argument about the welfare state. using this as an analytic, they
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referenced the u.s. debates in general. it is perhaps only appropriate to encourage the deep state analytic when we consider the origins of this concept. credited withly adding to the deep state. notion back this series of references. is republished and there is azi dualus book on the n
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state. this is the work of swedish studies, scott had credited repeatedly for shaving is thinking about state duality and the deep state, but it's not my intention to make an argument about the alleged neutrality of german immigrants. it's too obvious to talk about the deep spate has various origins in multiple contexts. the concept of the deep state has developed the greatest power and scholarship in egypt. in the united states. greatrase has received permanence and discord thanks to president and his political allies. while employees of the term remain rare in academic riding, it is the state of u.s. politics and in our field. it did not come out of nowhere. it was hidden in unaccountable
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forces with the state scheming electedthe duly representatives of the people. discourse ofthe the due state under the context of three broader ways of thinking and second, i will focus on what i consider one of the most important previous iterations of the idea of state duality, the notion of the .ilitary industrial complex so, we can talk about the deep .tate ways of thinking with their own registers of assumptions and analytical complexity. conspiracies,re -- paranoid styles of
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thinking, to quote hofstetter. but these were never confined to the margins. it was as much at the political center as the periphery. nor is it a product of political paranoia and disturbance, but a way of explaining the human world. edit continues in the 20th century, despite efforts of theken by a sector nation's intelligentsia, including hofstetter himself, of course, to stigmatize them. there is a mode of thinking an
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argument and politics which centers virtuous people against the interests of the elites. it's the history of the populist persuasion that has always exceeded the history of late 19th century capitalized populism. nor should we collapse into today's nativist right-wing populism in the united states, or for that matter, europe. there are different inside of the political spectrum. it has been available as an toanization in response crises within representative democracy. there is an emergence
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of diffuse language about state duality involving the public as aitutional states permanent feature of governance. into aver appeared single discourse. less a hiddenr security hierarchy that would with itsrallel decisions, or consider the best-selling book by journalists on the cia and u.s. intelligence published in 1964. it distinguished between the visible, conventional government and the invisible shadow government with hidden,
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interlocking machinery representing the real locus of power drawn from the visible government, but also individuals and agencies relating to the world of business. but this duality is one that purposely sets the keys of government against a new cause i a taunus center in different terms. here to theng notion of the military industrial complex. eisenhower's discourse did not .equire much exposition it was a presidential act of speech. eisenhower's long-standing
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frustration was about his inability to impose his priorities at congress and the heightening ofe vested interests. broadly speaking what we have about theconcern national security state and the sustained militarization of the american polity. finally, eisenhower's conjunction of the military establishment and the claim to elitesy a technological registered the realities of the political economy of america's defense sector. vast, lavishly funded contractors and military agencies, nonprofits, all on the verge of the incipient
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privatization to use mark wilson's wide-ranging characterization. they market as a precursor of the talk about the deep state. lobby it's not just a exercise of unwarranted influence. but he presented the military industrial complex as a powerful , somewhat hidden center of power from within. it was deeply entrenched outside of public view and also -- this , encompassing private industry and or is it -- or is nice to -- organized science. and these are the images
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eisenhower used before. most prominent among these images the notion of the garrison state. wall describe the state as an enveloped -- inevitable destiny. prior to 1961, eisenhower repeatedly talked about the garrison state and what he called his grim paraphernalia without going into detail. about you talking need directional all-encompassing transformation in the so-called ascendancy or militarization of america. and third, in eisenhower's
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evocation of the term, there is a certain ambivalence. the speech leaves many questions open and can be read as a or as aatic critique vigorous defense of a fiscally conservative nation. the notion was capacious enough to be appropriated by actors across the political spectrum. they could attribute it to a more systematic critique or they could use it and liberal or fashion to show tot it is wasteful and develop more effective controls and rationalization for regulatory public access.
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notion waser's suggested for the state in the suggested way that the emergence of a national security state in the 20th century. , it shifted away from a more one-dimensional populist critique, which had occupied center stage in in the contextcs of broad-based political mobilization and military allies in general. through 1936.1934 least two broader
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contexts. confronting the province that might cause another war. but the results of the control and regulation in the military and industrial sphere. that linked to other struggles and political enterprises. directly, peace and freedom congress to consider. it talked about the full-scale nationalization of the armaments. the political mobilization against the arms industry was primarily in terms of a populist
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this.sion, warning in tort of terms. -- conspiratorial terms. we hear about corruption, operating outside of accountability. they are beating the patriotic drum, causing armed conflicts to sell the products for all sides. it is best captured with the title of a best-selling book, published -- with some critique ofn for a their position.
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they called this the devils theory of war. emphasizes a more structural analysis. notalso characterized simply this political appeal in general, but his political multivalent's. collusion for populist conspiratorial keys that easily function as a side for politics. as it also extended to a debate, in important ways eisenhower's opinions or an indication of
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what eisenhower called critique. in this and yet they are directly opposed. after all there is an organized wasch, whether it deliberately thought or not. the term emergence of data coupled with the admonition that they should not dictate national identified for the first time the actual subject of the farewell speech. eisenhower advanced the more conspiratorial view of business elites. there is a real danger. standlitary needed to firm against greed, against
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corruption, against narrow favoritism, and against monopoly. , there is to the end a longer, historical perspective. eisenhower at unification of the military-industrial complex as a key antecedents. by way of conclusion, let me suggest that thinking about the deep state in the same context is often solitary for a different reason. it entered as an act of political speech. it was not picked up as use by scholars of different persuasions.
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we are invited to consider the deep state as a term with an analytical promise. it reminds us that we, as historians, whether we like it have chosen these in our own categories. we decide whether the deep state should not qualify for dolytical pickup, but we well to recognize there's no meaningful history to be had. thank you. [applause] >> thank you, dirk. is dr.rd speaker beverly gage.
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she is a professor of history, professor of american studies, and the director of yale's program in grim strategy. she is the author of "the day whichtreet's exploded." was recently made into a .ull-length documentary she has been published in just journal iy major know. she is a regular guest on pbs news hour and is riding a biography of jaeger hoover. -- j edgar hoover. the floor is yours. gage: thanks. i'm would you talk about a key study and that is j edgar hoover. i am riding, in the final stages
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of a biography. i think certainly in popular perception he represents many of the features of what labels have come up here. keyoke down some of his notions. of her as one of the 20th century's great unaccountable bureaucrats. someone who set in the background exercising great power without accountability. there is a lot of truth to this image. , he was theminder director of the fbi from 1924 until 1972. he was the head of the fbi for 48 years.
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that means he came to power in that job at the age of 29 and he died in that same job in 19 some to. he was appointed under calvin coolidge and he lasted through coolidge and then through herbert hoover. so he was there in the early years of the great depression. he was there through franklin roosevelt's presidency, through the new deal. truman kept him on. hoover was there through the early cold war, mccarthyism. when truman left, eisenhower came in. hoover stayed through eisenhower's terms. through the developing cold war through the 1950's. he stayed on through john f. kennedy. he stayed on for lyndon presidency.
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he stayed on through richard nixon's presidency and finally may in the position in 1972. throughout this time, as you can this world of in bipartisan establishment politics, eight presents, two attorneys general, republicans and democrats. he was never elected to this position, but was reappointed repeatedly and over the course the fbiareer, he don't from being a rather small and .nsignificant bureaucracy the investigative wing of the justice department into a really substantial part of the national security state, an institution created within his own image.
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imagination, i think how he did that tends to emphasize a lot of these deep state terms. i think most prominently, that hoover controlled so much power and lasted for such a long time by ruling through fear, through intimidation, by creating a pure rock a sea of secrecy and that really began manipulating politics in a secretive way from behind the scenes, intimidated presidents, intimidated congressman. terms, we understand his influence on american politics to have been really a conservative to political figure
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-- conservative political figure who maintained this for targeting the american left or attacking liberals, particularly the communist party in the 1940's and 1950's, but moving on to the left movements of the 1960's and 1970's. this is also our scholarly image of hoover, the ultimate unaccountable bureaucrat. who wielded his power as a conservative ideologue. he is almost a rogue power, someone who had enough concentrated power to shape politics outside of the electoral system. there is a great deal of truth to this story.
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but i want to push back against the idea of the deep state. but that story is largely overblown or it doesn't tell us 'sout key parts of hoover life, and the creation of the national security state that has fallen off the map. i would suggest that far from and someonee actor who operated outside of electoral politics, hoover, we really ought to see as a product of the same kind of forces that are producing other parts of the state and in particular, the fbi emerged as part of the same , and far from being solely conservative
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constraining force on leftists and liberals, it was a product of the same state building impulses that produced the social security administration and the civil rights act later on. i want to make key -- three key arguments. emphasizing hoover as the product of deep state impulses, it does not tell us how he came to power. how it was that in institution like the fbi was actually don't. the time andxplain energy that hoover and other figures put into cultivating , andical relationships finally, i think most important, it doesn't explain hoover's in
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norma's popularity over his career. we tend to think of hoover as one of the great villains of american history coming out of this moment in the 1970's. characterizedposé by the church committee and the practices of the fbi. one ins an idea that no washington really new or understood what the fbi was up the public at large, have they really known what hoover was doing would have rejected the politics he represented. but i want to take it back to an to remindment everyone that hoover was one of the most popular figures in the 20n history in century. he was one of the most respected public figures. and while many of the details of
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what the fbi was up to were of , large swaths of what the fbi was doing were public. powers, but also its intelligence operations. again, against the communist party. other left groups. the agenda was out there and pretty widely supported. as we talk about the deep state, we talk about american suspicions without thinking about how that can be supported by elected officials in washington and the american public at large. quick taste of
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this, i want to talk about his relationship with two presidents we may not think of as a learning very well with hoover's own politics. those would be the two greatest liberal presidents all the transcend, franklin roosevelt and lyndon johnson. these are the figures. first of all, it really gave the fbi the power it came to have and allowed that power to in the 1960'sist and 1970's when the fbi became so controversial. so, starting out with roosevelt, we put roosevelt and hoover in different ideological categories.
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it really is roosevelt, more than any other president who -- buthe architecture the architecture in really gave hoover many of the jurisdictions that he had. was a small investigative body. when hoover took on the job of fbi director, there was a real backlash and many of the powers 1910she bureau had in the -- in the teens and 1920's had been curtailed. worked as part of
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a relatively small organization, not exercising a tremendous amount of power. it's when the new deal comes along that that begins to change. ultimateformed the architecture of the fbi and gave hoover his own personal power. many of these were done with the consent of congress. with there done accrual of executive power. expansion oformous domestic law enforcement. in the 1930's, largely in response to questions about kidnapping, the fbi started to get a much larger menu of
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federal crimes it was responsible for. this was the war on crime moment. it was really in that moment that the fbi becomes the dominant law enforcement agency. bank robbery, kidnapping. as the federal government is expanding, other things are becoming federal crimes. the fbi also comes in and begins to be responsible for bank robbery is a crime. you begin to build be domestic law enforcement duties and that is through democratic processes. that is through congress passing laws. that is through the president signing off on them. that is piece one. -- piece two, two,
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it is really under franklin roosevelt that the fbi learns to sell itself as a popular institution. when we talk about the "deep state," we don't talk about the popular image, the fact that the military has a popular constituency that mobilizes on their behalf. the idea that government and government service is something that had to be sold and promoted to the american people, and the fbi was not only a public relations apparatus, but hoover himself becomes a household name in the 1930's as a law man, as someone fighting on behalf of the american people. the third and i think most critical thing that happened, as roosevelt becomes increasingly concerned by 1936 about the war in europe, and possible ramifications here at home, the possibility at this point of war in europe, he begins to turn to the fbi, reauthorizing it to serve in more expensive political surveillance
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capacities in the united states. in 1936 through executive order, he authorizes the fbi to begin investigating nazis and communists. by 1939, he gives the fbi control over espionage, subversion and sabotage within the war. from 1939 to 1941, when roosevelt felt deeply constrained by public opinion that is very much against u.s. involvement in the war, he worked closely with the fbi to begin building a new intelligence apparatus that is going to serve the purposes of the war. much of that goes on from 1939 to 1941, before the u.s. has officially entered the war.
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it seems pretty clear that franklin roosevelt would have done even more with the fbi, both had hoover not stopped him and had roosevelt not died. there are two interesting moments in the 1940's where roosevelt is really pushing for fbi expansion, and in one case hoover is a constraint. in another, roosevelt dies. when japanese internment comes along, there is a lot of enthusiasm for the fbi to manage japanese internment, and hoover pushes back against that. the department of justice and fbi both opposed the policy of japanese internment, so what happens in large part through other channels. at the moment that roosevelt dies, he was actually considering taking up hoover's idea that when the war came to an end, it ought to be the fbi in charge of global surveillance, sort of making the fbi into a proto-cia. so in the 1930's, the point to take away is that the fbi is not operating on its own. it is operating in conversation with congress, in conversation with the presidency, and in many ways is being empowered by the
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president's own agenda. hoover is certainly pushing some of this, but he's not the engine of his own empowerment, in many ways. in closing, i want to jump quickly to the 1960's, and offer a few last thoughts. if roosevelt is really the president responsible for creating the fbi in many ways, it is lyndon johnson who allows hoover to stay on. in the natural course of things, at this moment, there was a mandatory federal retirement age of 70. so hoover should have retired in 1965, had things been allowed to go their own natural course. it is lyndon johnson who at the moment he becomes president decides one of his first acts will be to exempt jaeger hoover from federal retirement provisions and keep him on, and power. there has been certain speculation about why this may have been. they were neighbors. they had been good friends. did hoover have something on johnson? but i think it is pretty clear, johnson saw both that hoover was an enormously popular political
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figure, someone who in part because of his conservative political constituency could help johnson with more conservative elements of the democratic party. and in part that hoover would in fact serve many of the goals johnson had for his own presidency. from 1964 to 1965, johnson more than any other president really uses the fbi to support his own political agenda, to secure his own reelection. i'm happy to talk or about any of that -- more about any of that in the q&a. finishing up, i suppose i want to push back on a few of the concepts of the "deep state," at
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least as they apply to j. edgar hoover. i think we cannot see the "deep state" as developing outside of a broader analysis of state development, the fbi's own greatest moments of expansion, also the greatest moments of expansion of the liberal state, of the national security state to some degree. as i said, the new deal, the great society, these are also moments of empowerment of the fbi, and in particular we need to contend with the relationship between "unaccountable bureaucrats" and the hand-selected politicians who often support and use the "deep state" in ways that serve them, and to think about the "deep state" not simply as a reviled part of american politics, but one that has had an enormously popular constituency as well. >> wonderful.
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thank you so much, beverly. folks, we have about 30 minutes for questions. i will start off, to you and to the panel. nobody needs to answer my question, but they might prefer some conversation. and if you have a question, just raise your hand and join. my two questions i thought of listening to our panelists. the first one, is "the deep state" a useful term for historians to use to explain american politics? is there unwarranted, unelected, unacknowledged power with undue influence in american politics? if so, where does that power reside, and how should we historians contextualize, discuss and explain it? i don't think we do well by just critiquing the term. let's try to understand it in its most useful possibilities.
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the second, what animates some of the conspiratorial elements of the deep state narrative, the so-called paranoid element of american politics, which we think has always existed, even oddly enough as literacy rates have improved, government transparency has increased and overall people have more access to information today than say in the first two decades of the 19th century, and nonetheless there are still underlying currents of belief that there are cabals, conspiracies, secret
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drivers of u.s. government policy. so what propels those currents in the periods you study? economic disenfranchisement? political disenfranchisement? something darker, ethnocentrism? whenever we hear "globalists and bankers," it is a short leap to jews who are ostensibly controlling government policy. let's get a few questions. you can direct them to the specific panelist or to the whole crowd. there is a microphone, if you would wait for it, because we have c-span. >> you know what happens when someone has a microphone. [laughter] ok. thanks. i would like to start by thanking all four of you. what a brilliant panel. so helpful and interesting. and i have a question, but i also want to add another element to the bureaucratic structure. because it seems to me, one thing that is useful is to sort of think about, what are the components where it tends
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towards conspiracy, and what are the components of the state structure we now have that actually are built in, secret and unaccountable? one technology of what we might call the deep state, or something else, is law. not legislation, but law made in secret without being subject to review and revision by any democratic process, and we need some serious, deep work for want of a better word on the office of legal counsel. it exists within the attorney general's office, and in terms of the law of presidential power over war, which of course matters literally today, presidents, -- precedents,
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opinions are created about the lawfulness of certain presidential actions, there is no adversarial lawmaking process in court, and those presidents get built -- precedents get felt. some opinions are released, but a lot of the relevant laws related to presidential power and use of force is classified. so if there's any element we might call "deep state," that sure seems like it. i sort of raise this, as a question for you about technologies of the state as we now have it, and so i wonder, especially for beverly, but for everyone. to what degree has law been a constraining or enabling feature
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of your stories? that's my question. >> yeah. i think that's a great question, and the really important category to think about. to sort of build off of aaron's question, of whether "the deep state" is the term we want. a term that didn't come up so much is the administrative state, and in many ways that remains a more useful term. what "the deep state" contains that the administrative state doesn't, the administrative state suggests a certain amount of transparency, whereas "the deep state" suggests much of that is going on in secret, so that may be a useful distinction. but certainly regulatory decision-making and the question of who is making most of the decisions that are made. most of what's going on is not
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happening through legislative processes, not happening through necessarily public discourse, although of course some elements of the administrative state, that does occur. you know, there have been these moments in american history, the 1970's in particular, when there have been real pushes to try to open up some of these processes. one of the interesting things you might think about now is whether we're at one of those moments of reform. during hoover's life, the only check on the fbi, the only check on his power, although i'm making the case he had all these elaborate political relationships and talking to constituencies, formally the only check was having to get appropriation every year. there were no intelligence committees in congress. there was no one in the federal bureaucracy who had the right to access fbi files. that makes them very useful to historians now, with the freedom of information act.
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so the fact they didn't think anyone was ever going to be able to access what they were doing, their own internal policies, the notes, makes them pretty valuable and interesting documents. but they always operated on the assumption that they had total control over these kinds of internal decisions. one of the most famous examples of hoover's own discretion was around wiretapping and bugging, around wiretapping and bugging, in which wiretaps, tapped through the telephone system, were supposed to be approved by the attorney general. they weren't always approved, although they technically were. but hoover decided that didn't to microphones planted physically in certain places. this was a secret decision, internal to the fbi, never subjected to outside scrutiny, looking at the technicalities of instructions and carving out an entire sphere of autonomous
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action. so if you were, say bugging , martin luther king's hotel room, you didn't need that approved by the attorney general, but if you are wiretapping his phone, you did, and, of course, robert kennedy approved the fbi wiretapping martin luther king's phone. so the idea it is as secret as we might like may not be so true. the last thing i will say on this question and then open it up, in the 1970's, there was a very, very concerted effort to build more transparent structures. the freedom of information act, the congressional intelligence committee, the fisa courts, this moment of reform energy, as michael said, that lasted through the 1980's and 1990's to some degree, but was really undone by 9/11.
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one of the questions, whether we will have a moment of that kind of reform energy and scrutiny again. i don't think the energy is really there for it, the political energy, but i don't know. it might be one of the end results of a kind of "trump battles the deep state." comment,ould just -- a one of the things that struck me about your question, mary, was the comment there is no adversarial process. and i think, you know, this speaks to some of the persistent themes of our three papers. we tend to right now exist in what we imagine feels like a very adversarial political environment. i mean, that's long been true, not solely of our own moment. and yet, one of the things that makes this concept of the "deep state" both attractive and repellent to us is that it seems to operate largely by consent.
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it is not sort of burdened with these conflicts and contests that define our open politics. it's sort of governed by administrative procedures and sort of deep affinities and the like, and we can think of that as a problem, as undemocratic, think, beverly is also calling to how there is also something attractive about that, something efficient about it, something professional about it. there is a kind of way in which it works, and i think that sort of explains the sort of different emphasis beverly is giving us versus maybe what the sort of jerome corsis of the world are giving us. depending on your point of view, it can either be something that sort of advances your interest and keeps you safe, or it can be something that is a kind of conspiracy. but the lack of adversarial
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process, i think, has persistently struck a lot of americans as somehow undemocratic, because they can't necessarily engage or change these processes or really even understand or comment on them, if they are happening in secret. >> if i can add one other quick thing to that. i think in many ways, part of progressive tradition that produced the administrative state and continued on for many years, and you see this quite dramatically in hoover's career, is the idea that that is actually going to be the more virtuous part of the state, the part of the state that sits professionally outside of the drama of the electoral politics, that is somehow going to be acting in the common good as it is constructed. this is an enormously popular
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idea for much of the 20th century. it is the idea that produces a figure like hoover. if he is popular, there's anti-communism, but a lot of it is driven in fact by this idea that unlike all these self-interested politicians who are always fighting with each other, engaged in these adversarial processes, he's able to stand back from that. he was born in washington, d.c., he very proudly said he never belonged to a political party, never voted because d.c. , residents could not vote at at that point. that was supposed to be a virtuous tradition, and right now we see a real battle over whether that has created a sealed, elite world, whether it is in fact a virtuous tradition of public interest work that will protect us from demagogues and other public figures. >> yes, sir?
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and do, please, identify yourself. >> i, from this idea of the deep state from the notion of , conspiracy theory studies, and there, the deep state might mean something slightly different, from the security state and other things. it is much more nefarious, to some extent a newer idea, dated from 1970's and onward, but related to notions of the new world order. it is probably -- it's more marginal, but moving towards the center, where a lot of people think of ideas of a national security state. but the deep state actually, few
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people knew about that, a more thing, so -- marginal i wonder if you think there are differences between what we now talk about a "deep state," at least sort of coming into existence in the last 20 years, and the more traditional national security state, administrative state. >> before anyone answers, can i ask back to you, in your remarks about how the narrative of how the deep state functions in denmark, are there also these constant references to military and intelligence services? which is a commonality among the turkish narrative and the and even theative narrative about italy originally. it was always the military and intelligence services, that had not only undue power, but often lethal power. it often spilled over to where they were killing people or
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arresting people. >> denmark is a little different in that sense, in that we almost always had a high degree of trust in the state. -- i have the current worked on denmark. much of the current state of denmark and which goes for a lot of other countries, as well, is imported from the united states, "x-files."u know, "x-files" has had a proven effect on people's view of the deep state, insperity theories in general. >> the long reach of david duchovny. [laughter] want to take this one? >> let me begin by emphasizing how important it is -- the distinction, whether we talk
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about the political keyword or an analytical concept. the term itself, we can't fix its meaning. it has so many different meanings. it has it has fantastical meanings, conspiratorial meetings, even more meaning that register with practices of the state. so i think it is difficult to identify the core. one of the things i tried to do in my talk was to emphasize this long genealogy of duality. the state, and the national security state. i have tried to identify some of the kind of academic thinkers that we take serious, president eisenhower, in general. to see this idea is not an outlandish, conspiratorial tradition, but there is a long tradition. the term is not being used. and of course, even among people , talking about the state
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duality, there are very different ideas. if you read ernst frankel, a critique of the nazi state that associates the emergency state this is different. the terrorists and genocidal. this is very different from how people are now talking about the deep state. that is why it is strange when the he references frankel to 1950's, talk about security hierarchy in the state department. not making argument about the nazi-fication of the state department, but he plays with this idea of state duality. we come back to this question. that's a very interesting idea, an invitation to think about, to not think about the state as a coherent institution, but about dualities built into it,
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particularly with the military and security agencies, so potentially, that is a useful idea, but i would also emphasize, because aaron talked about the association with the military and the security agencies. you should read -- i use the case of eisenhower. it often invites us to not just think about the state, but the relationship between state institutions, sectors of the state and what is outside the state like private industry. , peter day o'scott writes about drug cartels, banks, other things. so the argument of the deep often comes with the argument about the relationships with the state, this is perhaps an analytical invitation to take it more serious.
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i think the keyword side, that's basically an intellectual history of political keywords and fantastical, conspiratorial politics. we might think in part as conspiratorial, but it is where the elites transcend. it has a conspiratorial element, but some of us might think there's some analytical promise to these kinds of analyses. >> if i could just briefly add to that, i don't see this kind of rhetoric about the "deep state" today as substantially different than the kinds of arguments made in the past. one of the ways i might try to prove that claim, one of the key
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, if you will, debates in the church committee was whether or not cia assassination programs were or were not authorized by the president. did the president know or not know of these programs? which seems to me to get to the crux of your question. like, is there something deeper about the present "deep state" than in the past? and, you know, i guess the issue -- the reason i cite that example, it seems to me there is nothing deeper than the basic epistemological question of, does some legal entity authorized the actions of a state or not? that is the kind of ground-level question, beneath which you really start to get into the "deep, deep state," right? i think that question has been
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there for a long time. the question was raised, around the manhattan project and truman's unawareness of the manhattan project until he becomes president. these questions have been there for a long time. to mary's point, if the law is made in secret, maybe with only two people in the room, how do you even know or establish this basic fact? it is very difficult. that was a question at the heart of the church investigations, really, as to whether or not this was part of a legitimate state program, however controversial or unethical it may have been, or whether it was a true conspiracy. >> yes. two quick things to add on to that. ask to you are right to
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distinguish between these. there's the foreign policy blob, right, that sometimes "deep state" is just used to describe a sort of elite world of people unelected, more of an administrative state. and then, in other cases, we are talking about something more secret, more conspiratorial. and in that taking apart of what we're talking about, it's also interesting to look at debates within institutions that we might or someone might describe as being part of the "deep state." precisely the questions that michael was suggesting. for instance, the fbi, and he -- you actually saw a little of too.after 9/11, the fbi, and hoover in particular, really held the cia in contempt, the cia and the
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nsa, because he didn't believe their budgets should be secret. he didn't believe there was enough transparency in what it was the cia was doing. and they found the fbi was a much more law-bound, in part because it was a law enforcement as well as an intelligence agency. but there were lots of battles between different intelligence agencies structured differently, about who is really the nefarious actor, how much accountability there really is, what levels of secrecy are operating, and really pretty different and subtle divisions of how that played out. >> yes, ma'am? you are, aswho well. >> i am a doctoral candidate at the university of kansas. my question about the analytical category, i think of president nixon, and for him, he had a true belief about the establishment deep state, and that influenced how he thought about policy, and i think in a way, we need to give credence to this idea because of the effect
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that it has, and i wondered what you thought about that and the true belief of it in government and whether there were forces acting against him in some respects. he over blew it, definitely, but there were people who wanted to bring him down. >> anyone want to tackle that one? >> i will say a couple of quick words. absolutely. nixon came into office with a very explicit idea that he wanted to live assize the bureaucracy, that, in fact, one of the problems in american policy is that the bureaucrats politics.- from he wanted them to do what he wanted them to do, not what they wanted to do, and it was certainly one of the themes of the nixon presidency. i would also say it is one of the things that brought him down, so hoover, you know, to go back to the example that i know
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best, he died in may 1972. he had not dealt very well with the question of fbi succession. nixon, nixon had had a lot of battles with hoover. they were very good friends. they want to the fbi to do things that the fbi did not want to do, and hoover did not want to do, many which were political, so when hoover died, he appointed an outsider of the fbi, and the fbi essentially rebelled against this outsider, a person they saw as a political operative, who was when hoover died the number three met at the fbi and quickly thought he should become the fbi director, mark phelps. and he really went after nixon, famously became "deep throat," helped to bring down the nixon presidency, so watergate was in part a rebellion against the
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bureaucracy, working in cahoots with "the washington post," just as nixon would have feared they would, and that is something to take seriously. throatought of the "deep "-"deep state" analogy. i do not think that language around "deep throat," deep , should be overlooked. that is part of the point i am making in my paper, that trump takes this notion seriously, as did nixon, and that is part of the reason why i think people who wish to understand our politics and policymaking process should also take it seriously, though i agree with dirk. it might be useful here to useblish some parameters to this category if we want to use
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it to understand how the state works. guess,the things that, i i would just briefly say on the nixon and trump sort of approach to the "deep state, and what is it feels to me often times with both of those figures that there is a degree of projection going on. as beverly said, nixon was trying to politicize it. if you look at his papers, he is constantly scheming in that regard, and one can also, i think, clearly see at the same goes for trump. authorizationis of the investigation of the fbi. he is politicizing the bureaucracy, and both men are doing that because they already regard the iraq received as political, and, of course, rightly so. regarduse they already the bureaucracy as political, and, of rightly so.
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it is baked in, and as outsiders, both nixon and trump were keenly aware of that, and they resisted it and tried to reverse it, so it sort of brings all of those things to the surface in the way they are not often brought to the surface. if we are in a moment where there are more calls for transparencyhe -- and reform, battling the bureaucracy in a way that brings these things to the surface. one of the things howard baker said during the watergate investigations is the cia involvement was like animals thrashing around in the forest. you could hear it, but you could not see it, and it is that same sort of sense that there is things going on just beneath the surface that we can kind of feel but cannot quite understand. i think it is also true today, and i think the reason that is happening has to do with the battles between presidents and
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bureaucracies in both of those moments. if i can push the panel to consider my question. [laughter] which you all studiously ignored, i noticed. endurancegued by the of the dark realities of the "deep state." we all agree. is there unwarranted power that exists through law, secrecy, bureaucracy? we all agree that is important. but there is almost always a darker conspiratorial element. there is one guy in the cia who also controls all standards and also the internet, for example, so on that latter half, the story of american history is one of slow and uneven movement towards better enfranchisement, more people having involvement in the critical process from the 18th century to today. people have more access to
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information,. while the government has grown, and there is certified stuff, you can through technology look at the budget, presidential proclamations, look at speeches in a way you certainly could not do in the 19th century, so people have more access to information. more people have access to their government in one way or another, and yet, there is consistently a portion of society that wants to say this is not the real power. there is a secret power behind it that is actually driving the train. my first question, in the american process specifically, can you comment on that? is that just one of the byproducts of democracy? if people do not get what they want, they find an enemy to blame for why that is? but given that we see these narratives -- there are narratives, transnational narratives, of a deep state. is there something more going
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on? it is possible there are turkish and american narratives about a security service with connections to gangs and the mafia because those things exist. it could just be an accurate reading of events. it could also be there is something deeper, transnational, not specific to one country, explain.s to nefarious, secret, that somehow one group has more power than they should have. anyone? keep it short.o the easy thing to say would be that this is a way to engage and sort of, you know, attacks against out groups, and jews being the primary villain here, and certainly there is an element of that at work, with this figure of george soros, and more broadly, the figure of the international financier is the
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way that gets introduced. from my point of view, what is most surprising is more often a kindt, the villain is of elite figure who speaks multiple languages, who has all of the right credentials. those have often been the people imagined to be at the center of these kinds of conspiracies. mac bundy being the sort of exhibit a of that kind of and i think that -- what i would sort of attribute that to is a kind of frustration among broad swaths of the theican people that both constitution itself and then the administrative state that has been built on top of it are forms of government that have
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empowered already powerful and that strikes many americans as undemocratic. i really think it is kind of as simple as that, so it is kind of a populist critique of elite rule, but i think it is motivated in part by the fact that the constitution is a system of government that creates a system of elite rule in large part, and it does the electorals, college, the senate. it was never designed to be a pure democracy, and it has become arguably less democratic over time, and i think that creates a lot of anger. i think i want to say two things. i think it is important to recognize when it comes to conspiratorial thinking, that is just a part of modern politics, and you could go back to the 1970's and 1980's. in the 1800s, there was a lot
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about the british crown, the catholics, so i think it goes back. i think it is a condition of politics, done by people, outsiders -- it is not always the elites. like every american president has believed in some sort of conspiracy theory, so i think that is just the condition of politics, that you have to have of politics and societies. see about different moments. the second thing about populism, right, is it comes in a particular moment. a political language in a system of representative democracy, whenever there is representation. the source of all authority, the people against the elites. this popular persuasion in
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attory, it may be located the beginning of the late 19th century, but it exceeds populism as different ways of expressing itself across the 20th century. ways of making sense of it, there are other ways. representative democracy. you have to have a political system in which you argue that the people are not being served by those in power, and i think populism with conspiratorial thinking, there is some distinct overlapping but also has a distinct center, and both of these versions we find in other countries, right? populism. some of the most interesting conceptual literature on populism comes from people studying populism in latin america. there is cross connections, etc., etc., and if you talk "deep state," there is
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something here about the 20th century, which is about the national security state and the big government. there is this idea that with governments, you get duality built into this. about thesomething american state in the 20th century. it is a different state in the 20th century than before. time, what is interesting, politically, very different people. he haswer, the insider, an idea of misplaced power. he is not, despite his thoughts about the pentagon, the outside -- i think this also should not be forwarded into some of the other things. as i tried to suggest, there is some overlap with populism, so i think we have to be very careful
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twoistinguish between these intellectual traditions that are constantly remaking themselves, and if we want to talk about it, --then have to attempt to specificity. i think about the political crisis at various points in time. >> yes, it occurs to me that one of the most important things we historians can do is separate between valid and invalid fatigues of the "deep state," and i have seen today actually a quite wide range of opinions on how useful the term is and how it describes real processes and phenomenon that we agree exist and can prove with historical research exists or existed, and that is very different from carelessly throwing around accusations around about cobalt lsat control -- about caba
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that control government. we are almost out of time. one historical pitch, which we started on with secrecy, one of the things that occurred to me, which is incredibly important for our own work, which is how much the worst part of the deep state narratives affect government, so when governments do not declassify records or refused to release them or do not have the budgets to do the normal declassification and release procedures they have agreed upon in advance, that radically empowers people to say, well, since there is no one else saying anything, the cia, the jfk association -- assassination, right now controlling lunch. it is a cost. if you are disgruntled with loose and unfair accusations of trust and the deep state, maybe join the cause to get the government to release records and on time, because that is how we can actually disprove some of
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the crazy claims and prove the very same claims. can i ask now if you have any final thoughts, because we are almost out of time? anything? all right, thank you all for joining us. i hope you enjoy the rest. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2020] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] this is american history tv, exploring our nation's past every weekend on c-span three. next, and our weekly serious "reel america," from 1985, "all star party for dutch reagan." hosted by frank sinatra, the program of song and tributes includes appearances by nancy reagan, dean martin, charlton heston, steve lawrence and eydie gorme, and variety clubs chairman monty hall. then, beginning at 5:30, we look back to the 1998-19 99 impeachment of president bill
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clinton with a three-part program. she covered the impeachment for "national journal," and is now a correspondent for "the hill" newspaper. we will have debates in senate trial. that is what is coming up here on american history tv. ♪ host: welcome to our all-star party for dutch reagan. speaking for variety clubs, monty hall. [applause] monty: thank you very much. welcome, everyone, and welcome to the all-star party. join me in welcoming a lady that


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