In Deep: The FBI, the CIA, and the Truth About America’s “Deep State”

Norton. Apr. 2020. 352p. ISBN 9781324003540. $30. POL SCI
Although the term deep state was coined recently, the concept of career bureaucrats, technocrats, and intelligence agents working to thwart the efforts of a sitting U.S. president and administration is not new according to investigative journalist Rohde (Beyond War). The author examines events of the past eight administrations to determine if the concept is accurate or a method for administrations to avoid openness and truthfulness regarding their activities. Rohde describes how Congress created the bipartisan Church Commission following Richard Nixon’s resignation to investigate abuses by the CIA, FBI, and IRS. He then identifies how later administrations felt impeded by the guidelines; for example, the Iran-Contra affair during the Ronald Reagan administration and the promise of “weapons of mass destruction” that led to the Iraq War. The final section discusses the distrust and denigration of the intelligence community by the Trump administration. The author interviewed officials at all levels in a number of agencies, and shows how career diplomats have suffered a loss of morale. He concludes that the suspicion of a deep state is unfounded but that bias, “turf consciousness,” and comfort with the status quo can work against change and oversight.
VERDICT Readers seeking to know the origins of the deep state and how the concept evolved will be enlightened by Rohde’s compelling study.
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