There is a hidden country within the United States. It was formed from the astonishing number of secrets held by the government and the growing ranks of secret-keepers given charge over them. The government secrecy industry speaks in a private language of codes and acronyms, and follows an arcane set of rules and customs designed to perpetuate itself, repel penetration, and deflect oversight. It justifies itself with the assertion that the American values worth preserving are often best sustained by subterfuge and deception. Deep State, written by two of the country's most respected national security journalists, disassembles the secrecy apparatus of the United States and examines real-world trends that ought to trouble everyone from the most aggressive hawk to the fiercest civil libertarian. The book: - Provides the fullest account to date of the National Security Agency’s controversial surveillance program first spun up in the dark days after 9/11. - Examines President Obama's attempt to reconcile his instincts as a liberal with the realities of executive power, and his use of the state secrets doctrine. - Exposes how the public’s ubiquitous access to information has been the secrecy industry's toughest opponent to date, and provides a full account of how WikiLeaks and other “sunlight” organizations are changing the government's approach to handling sensitive information, for better and worse. - Explains how the increased exposure of secrets affects everything from Congressional budgets to Area 51, from SEAL Team Six and Delta Force to the FBI, CIA, and NSA. - Assesses whether the formal and informal mechanisms put in place to protect citizens from abuses by the American deep state work, and how they might be reformed.
Journalists Ambinder and Grady provide a rendering of the U.S. government's secrecy apparatus in both international and domestic affairs, offering an acronym-laden fest for fans of the NSA, CIA, and Department of Defense while providing few revelations. The authors display unabashed enthusiasm for the machinery of shadows, particularly the secretive Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) profiled in Ambinder and Grady's earlier book The Command, entire chapters of which are reprinted here. A congratulatory account of the coordinated spying activities conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the operations that resulted from them, are labeled as unprecedented successes. Meanwhile, the authors are blithely dismissive of Julian Assange and Wikileaks. Admiration of JSOC and others, and a subtle contempt directed at those who would question "official stories," trickles through, forming two overarching themes. The first is an Orwellian feat of circular logic that states that no secrets really exist, because if they did, we would already know about them. The second defensively posits that neither the government nor American citizens can stomach the truth about what it really takes to keep us safe. Despite some insights in a chapter on the NSA's controversial wiretapping program, the majority of the book details the players, rationalizes their actions, and, ironically, keeps their secrets.