If you didn’t believe the Deep State is beyond democratic control before, you now have no choice – not after the last minute mugging the Donald received on his way to releasing these ancient JFK assassination files.
And believe us, they are indeed ancient. Your editor was sitting in high school civics class learning about the difference between America’s open society and democratic government and the secretive Kremlin dictatorship of the Soviet Union when news of the Dallas tragedy came over the school’s PA.
Needless to say, the theory that the assassination was the work of a lone gunman in the Texas Book Depository, who fired three shots in 11 seconds with a 1890 vintage Italian rifle and hit President Kennedy from 265 feet was never very satisfying from the beginning.
While the record of Oswald’s proficiency as a military marksman is highly disputed, the distance of the so-called third shot was equivalent to a touchdown run from your own 12 yard-line. Even as country boy hunters back in the day, we could appreciate that would have been quite a feat.
Nor did we find it any more convincing a few years later when as a college antiwar radical we realized that the despicable Alan Dulles, founder of the CIA, had been a member of the Warren Commission and was the behind the scenes puppeteer who shaped the report. And, oh, Alan Dulles loathed Kennedy for firing him after the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and was therefore possessed of no special zeal to get to the bottom of what actually happened.
At length, a large share of the American public also came to doubt the report – especially after Oliver Stone’s brilliant conspiracy movie called JFK hit the theaters in 1991. So the very next year, twenty-five years ago, Congress ordered all the files to be released no later than October 26, 2017.
In effect, that meant the CIA, FBI and rest of the so-called intelligence community had been given 6,250 government business days to review the files and redact or delete what they would.
Yet as of last weekend, the Donald, who is virtually a conspiracy theory aficionado and a friend of Roger Stone who believes LBJ did it, had every reason to let it all hang out. To that end, he tweeted that the files are finally on the way – fully 54 years after the event:
Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened.
Moreover, as of 3:56 PM Wednesday, the President of the United State had apparently not received any "further" information. Accordingly, he tweeted again, absent the qualifier:
The long anticipated release of the #JFKFiles will take place tomorrow. So interesting!
Except it didn’t. After two-and-one-half decades to prepare, the CIA and FBI literally took a fire ax to the Oval Office door, vetoed the President’s clear power under the statute to make the release and then forcibly repossessed some 200 of the 3,000 JFK documents .
Of course, this mugging was done for the same hackneyed reason which allows the Deep State to keep Congress and the public in the dark about much of what goes on in Washington’s globe-spanning Imperial operations – such as the most recent revelations about Niger.
In fact, there are 6,000 US forces conducting more than 3,500 missions per year all around the African continent. Niger was just the tip of the iceberg, which apparently includes troops and missions in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Gabon, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, the Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Togo, Uganda, Tunisia, Kenya, Ghana, Djibouti and undoubtedly still others.
The point is, the Deep State simply asserts that "sources and methods" must be protected and that’s all it takes. A curtain of secrecy then slams down that only a few members of the Congressional intelligence and national security committees can peer behind.
Of course, the whole shebang is a farce because 98% of what is being protected comes from so-called SIGINT (signals intelligence). That is to say, from the massive NSA spying operations that monitor every digital impulse that courses through the worldwide web from virtually every spot on the planet.
And thanks to Edward Snowden’s courageous expose four years ago, the whole world now knows that NSA does exactly that. So there are really no "sources and methods" to protect.
Indeed, it’s an open fact that the combined budgets of the 17 US intelligence agencies amount to about $75 billion per year – a figure 25% larger than Russia’s entire military budget, including research and development, weapons procurement, fuel, ammo, spare parts, soldiers pay and spare boots, too!
So no enemy, adversary or friend, as the case may be, anywhere on the earth is unaware that they are being watched and tracked. Nothing would be "compromised" by telling Congress and the public what the "intelligence community" has gathered from SIGINT – such as any digital proof that Russia hacked John Podesta’s email – and most of its other sources, too.
In fact, however, the elected politicians who come and go in the Imperial City are so domesticated to this insane regime of secrecy that they simply acquiesce to a system that is utterly ridiculous. To wit, there are more than 5.1 million non-elected bureaucrats, consultants and contractors with security clearances, including 1.5 million with "top secret" status, who are privileged to far more "national security" information than most Members of Congress!
Needless to say, the fact that at one minute before midnight the FBI and CIA pulled this "sources and methods" gambit on the JFK assassination files is surely testimony to the unbridled power and arrogance of the Deep State.
For crying out loud, Castro is dead, the Soviet Union disappeared 26 years ago, and any US secret agents in Moscow who remained alive in 1991 – either have now passed on to the hereafter or are living on a CIA pension in Florida!
However, our ruminations on yesterday’s outrage is not merely for the purpose of denouncing the CIA and FBI and all of their malevolent doings and plots. The larger point is that a Deep State apparatus that can operate in this unchecked manner and with such massive resources is exactly the kind of antidemocratic usurper that President Eisenhower famously warned about in his 1961 farewell address on the military-industrial complex.
Unlike today’s Republicans, Ike worried about the public debt and believed that the nation’s security ultimately depended upon a vibrant capitalist economy, not an overreaching and over-funded military. Accordingly, he ended up cutting the defense budget he inherited from Truman by 33% in real terms and balanced the Federal budget three times during his tenure – with the eight year deficit average coming in at under 1% of GDP, including the 1958 recession year.
As we indicated recently, Ike’s outgoing defense budget was $52 billion, which would amount to about $300 billion in today’s purchasing power (2017 $). And that was at a time when the Soviet Union was at the peak of its industrial and military power and could deliver thousands of warheads by plane and missile to the continental United States.
Yet the greatest military general ever to occupy the Oval Office believed that $300 billion of our current money was enough even then, and that the real threat was that the military-industrial complex would obtain "inordinate political power" and cause the nation to bankrupt itself on excessive defense spending.
Eisenhower was right on both counts and that is the real lesson of yesterday’s mugging of our current President. The massive regime of secrecy that blankets national security policy and that insists on protecting 54-year old "sources and methods" is exactly the "inordinate political power" that Ike warned about.
The fact is, the current $700 billion defense budget is hideously large given that the American homeland is not threatened by any militarily capable industrial state on the planet. Russia is a pip-squeak economy 7% as large ours with no military capacity to attack the American homeland – other than through a suicidal nuclear attack that no one claims is any part of Cool-Hand Putin’s game plan.
Likewise, China is a $40 trillion debt, speculation and malinvestment infested economic house of cards; ISIS has slithered off the pages of history; and Iran is no threat to the American homeland whatsoever.
Oh, and the GDP of North Korea is just $18 billion. So does Washington really need a $700 billion military budget to defend America from Kim Jong Un?
That’s especially pertinent because there is no earthly reason why Imperial Washington still has 29,000 troops in South Korea, which mount massive military drills aimed at the North several times every year. The whole massive phalanx of lethal US air, land and sea power visible everywhere around North Korea, in fact, is what keeps the Kim family business’ miserable domestic economy credible in the eyes of its endlessly propagandized public.
Stated differently, with massive technological superiority, twice the population and 100X the GDP of the North, South Korea could more than handle its own defense – were Washington to permit the Korean Peninsula to be managed by the Koreans.
But the plain fact is, you don’t keep a $700 billion military budget funded – even by today’s fiscally profligate politicians – unless there is some semblance of a threatening enemy.
By our lights, the Fat Boy of Pyongyang is hardly that. If anything, he emits menacing threats and rattles his missile equivalent of sabers because he desperately wishes to avoid becoming a victim of "regime change".
It’s not pleasant. Even Kim Jong UN has noticed that Saddam Hussein didn’t have any nukes when he was strung-up by Washington on live worldwide TV; and that the even greater fool, Muammar Gaddafi, gave his nukes up voluntarily – only to be dragged behind a jeep by Washington-armed rebels, who eventually awarded his service to nuclear disarmament with a shive in the rear-end.
At the end of the day, here is the real truth. Washington is heading for a fiscal calamity that will shatter the foundations of the financial system. That has become more evident than ever after even the Freedom Caucus – save for three valiant fiscal warriors (Amash, Massie and Jones) – threw in the towel yesterday on what amounts to a $11.5 trillion 10-year deficit that will take the national debt to nearly $33 trillion or 140% of GDP by 2027.
Given the insuperable challenges of the aging baby boom and the massive entitlement state they have legislated themselves to over the last few decades, the last thing America can afford is a pointless military empire that bleeds its fiscal accounts dry. That includes, by the way, the $300 billion additional annual funding for veterans of Washington’s past military follies, security assistance and foreign aid designed to bribe its coalition of the unwilling and the debt accumulated over the decades in the pursuit of this whole sorry business.
But as we have observed, there are no fiscal conservatives left in the GOP. And many of those who might have stood up to the impending $33 trillion national debt monster have – just like the Donald yesterday – been mugged by the Deep State and its insidious regime of secrecy.
Were the GOP backbenchers not so blinded and immobilized by the Deep State, $400 billion could be wacked off the nation’s bloated defense budget in a heartbeat because what was enough for Eisenhower on the eve of JFK’s tragic assassination is far more than enough today. That is, in a world that is actually far less threatening to the safety and security of the American Homeland.
It is only the lies and fear-mongering of the forces which broke down the Oval Office yesterday that keep the real truth about the nation’s security from the Congress and the American people.
Still, you have to wonder. In the face of what is a nearly inexorable fiscal calamity, why do the day traders and robo-machines on Wall Street keep buying the dips?
The answer self-evidently is that the Fed has done to honest price discovery on Wall Street what JFK threatened to do to the CIA after the Bay of Pigs fiasco: Smash it into a thousand pieces!
For proof, you only need look at today’s $69 billion gain in Amazon’s market cap, which brought its PE-multiple to 239X.
After all, its operating income only declined by 40% from the year ago quarter.
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David Stockman was a two-term Congressman from Michigan. He was also the Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan. After leaving the White House, Stockman had a 20-year career on Wall Street. He’s the author of three books, The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed, The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America and TRUMPED! A Nation on the Brink of Ruin… And How to Bring It Back. He also is founder of David Stockman’s Contra Corner and David Stockman’s Bubble Finance Trader.