With intelligence leaks, a “deep state” of recovery.
The term “intelligence depth” has revived after leaks in the intelligence community. Reporter Marc Ambinder explains what it means for NPR’s lulu garcia-navarro.
LOURDES garcia-navarro, host:
In the past week, an old term has shifted from spy fiction to cable news. A leak between U.S. national security adviser Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador to the United States has triggered Mr. Flynn’s resignation, and deep national theories are being welcomed. Marc Ambinder is a longtime White House and national security correspondent. He is the co-author of “deep state”. He now joins us from Los Angeles via Skype.
Thank you for being with us.
MARC AMBINDER: I’m glad to be here.
Garcia-navarro: so how do you define depth?
AMBINDER: I have tried to define it briefly – perhaps is the national security and intelligence bureaucracy, the secret keeper, a security license, they have spent 10 to 20 years working in secret.
Garcia-navarro: so when we hear the word about Michael Flynn this week, what are we — what is the relationship between people and the potential crowd and this particular situation?
AMBINDER: they basically say that national security situation, the flow of the existing transfer and completely secret – to use its collective force to destroy the formal choice of national security adviser, because they don’t agree with him or they don’t agree with his President or they don’t agree with his policies. This is a sneer, a word that suggests that people are using their power to create malevolent goals. And if it’s true, it can trigger a crisis.
Garcia-navarro: so what do you think? I mean, they say, the depth of the country, the deep intelligence and security agencies, is basically trying to some sort of soft coup, they basically trying to his national security adviser, at least let legally elected leaders to compromise. What do you think this is?
AMBINDER: I don’t. The type of information we are discussing here is mainly the information circulating between the former government, the Obama administration and current government policy makers. The number of actual members of the “deep country” who can obtain FISA’s original interception between Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador to the United States is very, very small. In my opinion, a lot of this information comes from people inside trump’s own government.
It is not a conspiracy of my deep national elites. But once again, see it as a conspiracy is a very simple way, you can disable the things we now know, that is deliberately withheld his vice President, President of the information provided as soon as he learned this, may reveal that the vice President’s information has been out and said something not true words in public. This is very, very important information that the public should have.
Garcia-navarro: I’d like to talk about the reaction to the idea of deep countries. There have long been concerns about the enormous power of the us government security apparatus – mainly the left. I think of Edward snowden and other cases here. But here we see the exiles celebrated by liberals. In your opinion, do you have two methods?
AMBINDER: you shouldn’t have both. Anything has consequences. Indiscriminate disclosure of confidential information will have major consequences. If, for example, the intelligence bureaucracy had blocked the information provided by President trump, and people had leaked the facts, there would have been a backlash. We want the intelligence community – we want the deep countries and the President to get along somehow. In a sense, it’s good to think of them as checks on administrative power, because they’re very powerful.
But Donald trump is the President, and he has the power of (inaudible). The deep state – the intelligence bureaucracy, the national security agency – must get along with him. They must be able to provide him with information that allows him to make better decisions. So we’re really dealing with a very sharp double-edged sword here, two different agencies with enormous power sharing rights. We want them to cooperate in our interests. We don’t want them to go to war with each other. It didn’t help the American people. This of course will not further promote the cause of national security.
Garcia-navarro: Marc Ambinder– his book is known as the “deep country: the inside of government secrecy” (ph).
Thank you very much for being with us.
AMBINDER: you’re welcome.