Todd McKinley was a 2018 Republican Candidate for Congress in TN-01, he's a retired Army Paratrooper, Bronze Star, Combat Action Badge, and Presidential Service Badge recipient. He’s served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as well 6 ½ years at the White House Communications Agency & White House Military Office. He’s served as an Advance Representative for the Trump Administration, and as an Advance Representative for the 2020 Trump Campaign. Follow Todd: ; ; ; ;

What’s in a Name

There’s a saying often posed as a question and it asks, “what’s in a name,” which is usually used rhetorically or often as a throwaway line. However, every word, every name, every phrase etc. has a meaning and when it comes to the term “Deep State” there’s no difference. However, as with many things, it depends on how rational or sane the person giving the definition is.

Merriam-Webster gives the following definition to “Deep State”: “an alleged secret network of especially nonelected government officials and sometimes private entities (as in the financial services and defense industries) operating extralegally to influence and enact government policy.”

What I intend to do in this article is give my insight and experience of dealing with the “Deep State” and give a few points about what it actually is and what “it’s” (sarcastic air quotes) not. If you’re one who sees conspiracy theories everywhere then you’ll likely respond that I’m part of the “Deep State” and am helping with some sort of cover-up. If you’re rational, you’ll see that I’m giving you a good assessment from 2 ½ decades of serving in the Federal government in different capacities.

Deep State: The Fiction

Many people when speaking of the “Deep State” often describe it as being something akin to an organized, dark hooded cloak wearing, secret oath swearing, shadow government that’s made up of Illuminati types.

David Rothkopf described the “Deep State” as “the power of the deep state comes from experience, knowledge, relationships, insight, craft, special skills, traditions, and shared values. Together, these purported attributes make nameless bureaucrats into a super-government that is accountable to no one. That is a scary prospect.”

While there’s a lot of truth in Mr. Rothkopf’s description, there’s an odd tendency to give more credit to the “Deep State” than it deserves. Also, there’s a tendency to describe the “Deep State” as being some ancient organized secret society that’s been at work in our government since before the founding of the United States. The Masons are frequently cited as playing a major role in the “Deep State”, as if Freemasonry with their vast membership could keep such a secret, the Bilderberg group (meeting), the Illuminati (which is a catch-all for different groups) and more have been associated with the “Deep State”. While some groups have their own interests and have their hands in the pie in some ways, to pretend they have a vast network that touches every facet of government at nearly every level and they’re behind the throne pulling the levers of government regardless of who’s in the White House or Congress is more than a bit fantastical. We’ve heard this and all sorts of other theories for decades, yet nobody can truly prove it. To me, these theories on their own smack of ridiculous nonsense.

Now, I’m not saying there’s not some level of truth to many conspiracy theories, nor am I saying that the aforementioned groups and certain other groups don’t have a lot of sway in certain respects but to pretend that they have a vast network of people working in unison is absolutely ridiculous. When I hear some people rant about this group or that group, it makes me want to respond by saying “Hail Hydra” in a sarcastic tone.

IKE and JFK: Two Warnings Ignored

Before I get to a few of the facts, I’ll touch on some of the warnings we’ve ignored in decades past. By utilizing the words of Eisenhower and Kennedy, I hope to point out several warnings to include “Deep State” warnings that were touted in two speeches.

Before becoming our nation’s 34th President, Eisenhower was a longtime Army Officer which saw his career culminate in becoming the Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe and later the 1st Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) aka the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Commander. The warnings Eisenhower left us with came during his Presidential farewell address, which was given three days before he left office in January 1961 from the Oval Office. This speech has come to be known as the “Military-Industrial Complex Speech.”

The second speech I plan to touch on was given by President John F. Kennedy who was President Eisenhower’s immediate successor. President Kennedy gave what I feel was a remarkable speech, not only due to his wit and words but the substance of those words. The speech entitled “The President and the Press” was given before the American Newspaper Publishers Association on April 27th, 1961 which was only a few months after Eisenhower’s “Military-Industrial Complex Speech.”

IKE’s “Farewell Address”

President Eisenhower began by wishing President-Elect John F. Kennedy “Godspeed” and prayed that the “coming years will be blessed with peace and prosperity for all.” He also said that the American people “expect their President and the Congress to find essential agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of which will better shape the future of the Nation”, I’m not sure if Congress in recent decades got his memo, regardless of the failures of recent Congress’ and Presidential Administrations not taking heed, “Ike” made many more great points. As he put it, “America’s leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.” As we enter 2020, we find our nation’s prestige in peril due in large part to the growing partisan divide, out of touch dinosaurs in Congress, our mounting national debt, wars with no strategic goals and out of control leftist hysteria where the Left push feelings over facts, victimhood, identity politics, free giveaways and more.

I don’t want to quote President Eisenhower’s entire speech, but I think it’s important to highlight a few more passages that have gone unheeded before discussing his specific warning that’s essentially in line with a “Deep State” warning. One important part was where President Eisenhower said that a free government’s “basic purpose” is to “keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement and to enhance liberty, dignity, and integrity among people and among nations.” He continued to add that “to strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home and abroad.”

Eisenhower went on to say the “conflict now engulfing the world” that “commands our whole attention” and “absorbs our very beings.” When he said this, he wasn’t talking about a World War, but about a “Cold War” against Communism, Socialism and other leftist ideologies. As he said, “We face a hostile ideology — global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method.” President Eisenhower was correct about how long this fight against this regressive and evil ideology would take when he said, “it poses promises to be of indefinite duration” and watching the current Democrat Party without a doubt “Ike” was right when he said, “liberty is the stake.”

As the President continued, he again was correct in saying there would be crises’, “whether foreign or domestic” both “great” and “small” but warned us that we need to balance our response, not overreact but be realistic in our preparation, which would be key. These warnings continued until he reached what I feel is arguably his quasi “Deep State” warning. In this warning he began with understanding the “imperative” to have a permanent armaments industry and that we must “comprehend its grave implications.” He continued by pointing out that this new defense industry would have “total influence” in “economic, political, even spiritual” and would be “felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government.”

From start to finish, President Eisenhower went from discussing how the world had changed since he was a young Army officer in the early 1900s to describe where the United States found itself as he was set to leave office in January 1961 and where it was heading in the decades to come. He understood that “maintaining balance involves the element of time” but explained that we “must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow.”

Throughout his address, Eisenhower gave warnings of things that have since come to fruition, especially warning of the dangerous ideologies at work in the world. Additionally, he laid out the dangers if we don’t prepare on all fronts, both from external threats as well as preparing to meet domestic challenges but doing so equally. He felt there wouldn’t be a balance between needed defense preparations and domestic concerns. This is the point in the speech in which he warned us of the “Military Industrial Complex”. In his words, he said, “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

Our failures to head these warnings, have led to many needless Military deaths, Trillion$ in wasteful spending, lack of funding for needed domestic programs, heavy tax burdens on American workers and business owners, secret programs with little to no oversight where Americans have been spied on and more. In Eisenhower’s word, “We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.” With an unchecked “Military Industrial Complex” it has allowed for those who have their own agenda to hinder or push their own ideology within the Military at various levels, often hurting mission readiness and preparedness or enriching themselves at the expense of the American taxpayer. I could go on, but by not giving credence to the dire warning of President Eisenhower, we’ve done subsequent generations a true disservice.

JFK’s “The President and the Press”

President Kennedy began by saying his “topic tonight is a more sober one of concern to publishers as well as editors” and I might add the American people. Kennedy continued, “I want to talk about our common responsibilities in the face of a common danger. The events of recent weeks may have helped to illuminate that challenge for some; but the dimensions of its threat have loomed large on the horizon for many years. Whatever our hopes may be for the future–for reducing this threat or living with it–there is no escaping either the gravity or the totality of its challenge to our survival and to our security–a challenge that confronts us in unaccustomed ways in every sphere of human activity.” The threat he was referring to, was the threat posed by Communism, which is something the left today is espousing. Just listen to Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders both who don’t veil their agenda, on the other hand, Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden who play the nice rational role, but both are willing to move as far left as needed.

JFK went on to say, “This deadly challenge imposes upon our society two requirements of direct concern both to the press and to the President–two requirements that may seem almost contradictory in tone, but which must be reconciled and fulfilled if we are to meet this national peril. I refer, first, to the need for a far greater public information; and, second, to the need for far greater official secrecy.” Legitimate “official secrecy” is something I know well, having held the highest security clearance and having been entrusted with some of our nation’s most sensitive secrets. However, when “official secrecy” is cited to justify engaging in or covering up political malfeasance or personal criminality the lines need to be firm and adhered to. Richard Nixon in the aftermath of “Watergate” is but one example of a President trying to use “official Secrecy” when he discussed having the CIA put the kibosh on the FBI’s “Watergate” investigation in the now-infamous “Nixon tapes”, not that this came to fruition, but an example of a President plotting to commit an illegal act behind closed doors.

Up until this point, President Kennedy had only hit the preface of his speech, the main point I want to touch on is the point the President began with once he hit the meat and potatoes of the speech. In fact, this speech is more commonly known as the “Secret Societies Speech” or the “Speech that got JFK Killed” (and similar phrasing). While I don’t buy into the conspiracy theory that this speech got him killed, I do take away many great lessons from the substance.

Kennedy said, “The very word ‘secrecy’ (he added emphasis) is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in ensuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control. And no official of my Administration, whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpret my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know.”

From here, he went on to tell the Press they should not report things that would jeopardize national security and they should not wait for a time when America is facing “clear and present danger” to abstain from reporting things that could be harmful to America’s national security. Also, he essentially emphasized that anyone serving in the government shouldn’t be supporting their own agenda and instead should obey the Constitution. These warnings and many more are ones that I feel we’ve not heeded and now with a Federal government that’s over-bloated and with laws that make it near impossible to remove a Federal employee it’s become easier for a person to borough in and undermine a duly elected President and their administration, this runs contrary to the Constitution these people swore to “preserve, protect and defend.”

Deep State: The Facts

Albeit, David Rothkopf was defining what people think when they hear the term “Deep State,” although he was correct in that many of these unelected bureaucrats have “experience, relationships and shared values”, etc. However, they’re not exactly a “super-government” as most of these people work on their own and rarely are their efforts as a result of some coordinated effort, regardless, as he said the “prospect is scary!”

You’ll note that I said, “rarely are their efforts as a result of some coordinated effort” but sometimes, they do band together and collude with one another. A prime example is the made-up “Steel Dossier” and the nonsense behind “Russia Collusion” and “Ukrainian Collusion” etc. However, unlike Merriam-Webster’s description of the “Deep State” from my vast experience I believe there’s a tendency to give greater credit to would-be “Deep State” operatives.

A “Deep State” operative, aka “Deep Stater,” in many respects are career government officials, who serve in different capacities in various places around the world in every government department and agency. They serve at the lowest levels to among the highest of career positions in Washington. Ideologically they’re Left-Wing, Liberal Democrats who feel it’s their duty to be a fly in the ointment. They don’t exercise their self-entitled role at every turn, but they know full-well the government regulations they must adhere to, this coupled with experience that comes with years of gaming the system makes it easy for them to get away with slow-rolling those who are actually trying to carry out duties that their ideology conflicts with.

As for the upper levels of “Deep Stater(s)” as an example, Laura Cooper who’s currently the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, Eurasia. I personally don’t know for certain she’s a true “Deep Stater” but she was a political during the Clinton Administration and only became a career official once George W. Bush was coming into office, joining the Civil Service officially in January 2001. Again, I’m not saying she’s a true “Deep Stater” but with the perfect storm, she seemingly allowed her ideology to win out over facts as she testified during the “Trump Impeachment Hoax”. However, I’ve seen firsthand where political officials become career officials, most often at the end of a Democrat Presidential Administration.

During my time of dealing with the “Deep State,” I’ve had to deal mostly with career officials at lower levels who undermine officials’ duties of others. I’ve also seen firsthand career officials who have made accomplishing my official duties that much harder, from traveling in support of the White House during the Bush Administration to accomplishing my mission as a Senior Non-Commissioned Officer operating overseas as well as stateside. The “Deep State” is certainly real, but it’s not a vast network of connected people who coordinate their efforts, then again there’s a perfect storm that leads to nonsensical impeachment trials.

Oddly, those who qualify as “Deep Staters” believe they’re doing what’s right, albeit their definition of what’s right and reality are two different things. However, those of us on the right know better, we know that sometimes the American people elect Democrats and that our oath to the Constitution is more important than political games, unlike the “Deep State” operatives who place ideology first. Eisenhower said it best in his last sentence of his “Farewell Address” as he said, “May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nation’s great goals.”


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