“Double government.” Walter Bagehot coined the term in his 1867 book, The English Constitution. He hypothesized that British government had split into two separate layers. On the outer surface were high-profile “extrinsic” institutions such as the House of Lords, which gave the appearance of being in charge. On the inside were less conspicuous organs of government, such as the House of Commons, that actually ran the show.
Expanding upon Bagehot’s ideas is Michael J. Glennon, a professor of international law at Tufts University. Glennon has written “National Security and Double Government“, a book which argues that a similar double government has emerged in U.S. politics.
Regarding national security, Glennon contends that “judicial review is negligible, congressional oversight dysfunctional, and presidential control nominal.” Instead, he says, the actual decision-making is performed by “several hundred executive officials who manage the military, intelligence, diplomatic, and law enforcement agencies”[ii] that are “slowly tightening centralized power, growing and evolving organically beyond public view.”
But are elected officials such as the President truly hostages to murky, unseen elements within government?
Congressional investigations, leaked classified documents, and statements by former intelligence officers paint a completely different picture. Far from being out of control, the public record indicates that security services are obedient arms of the executive. And, further up the chain of command, the executive itself is responsive to profound sources of private influence residing outside of government.
Contradiction: The Obedient CIA
In the 1970s it came to light that the CIA, contrary to its charter, had been heavily involved in a domestic operation known as MH/CHAOS.
A series of formal investigations, one led by Senator Frank Church and another by House Representative Otis Pike, followed and arrived at the same conclusion with regard to chain of command. The Pike Committee report stated that the CIA was “utterly responsive to the instructions of the President.” Likewise, the Church Committee found that “the President has had, through the National Security Council, effective means for exerting broad policy control over at least two major clandestine activities—covert action and sensitive technical collection” and that the CIA was “not ‘out of control.’”
An an important recent instance, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s summary report on the CIA’s torture program infers that the CIA intentionally misrepresented it to politicians(And the public). But high-ranking administration members themselves, notably former Vice President Dick Cheney explicitly rejected the idea that the president wasn’t told what was happening.
The classic conspiratorial worldview is based on the assumption that our system of government would function properly if only we could round up all of the troublemakers. But to adopt this mindset is to ignore the pivotal role of money in politics. Far from being just the handiwork of several hundred power-hungry bureaucrats, there are more pervasive structural forces in play that define how our political system operates.
Economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.
Former CIA officer John Stockwell summarizes the nature of the relationship between the corporate elite and American intelligence services:
The CIA and the big corporations were, in my experience, in step with each other. Later I realized that they may argue about details of strategy—a small war here or there. However, both are vigorously committed to supporting the system.
Original Article Here