Towards an Atlantic police state? (4): The Deep State against their own elected leaders

The ‘terrorists’, we are being told, are envious of ‘our way of life’ and the intelligence services must protect us against them. That would certainly be what one should expect. In fact, in the case of the Five Eyes (to which the intelligence services of a country like the Netherlands operate as subcontractors), these services have often acted as a ‘Deep State’ destabilising elected leaders, setting the limits of politics at home. 

The assassination of president John F. Kennedy in 1963 and the internal spying on Nixon, triggered by the détente policy with the USSR and the president’s spectacular visit to China are examples. Kennedy had turned against the CIA over the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba, whilst Nixon had antagonised the agency and the Pentagon by appointing James Schlesinger to ‘clean it out’. This triggered elements in the secret services, the military and the media into action. The CIA and other Western agencies in other words not only brought down foreign governments but also their own.

In the aftermath of Watergate, the Church Committee in the US Senate exposed the illegalities involved in the FBI’s counterintelligence operations. The FBI also kept tags on most US lawmakers. At J. Edgar Hoover’s death in 1972 it was found the FBI director had almost 900 files on senators and more than 700 on congressmen in his possession. But whilst successive laws including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 were adopted to curtail surveillance, they in fact made things easier for the secret services. The so-called FISA court can issue orders to telephone companies to hand over data concerning calls within the US and between US and foreign callers and these practices continued also after the election of Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Carter had been elected as the clean outsider and his ‘human rights’ foreign policy, although applied very selectively, breathed the same spirit. Yet in 1978, Garden Plot emergency plans for dealing with domestic unrest were resurrected after Samuel Huntington, the advocate of restricting democracy, had been named Coordinator for Security for the Carter administration. With his patron, National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, Huntington also redesigned the Continuity in Government (COG) planning system. This goes back to secret emergency planning for nuclear war in the Eisenhower years. Under Huntington’s supervision, a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was created as an infrastructure for an emergency government takeover after a crippling nuclear war. Under Bush Sr and Clinton FEMA’s mission would be redefined as keeping the US in operation after a major terrorist attack.

Carter followed the Church Committee recommendations and Congress imposed a number of restrictions of clandestine foreign operations by the CIA and other agencies and the new CIA director, Admiral Stansfield Turner, dismissed key CIA figures who had be4en involved in them. This led to a group of Saudi intelligence and other foreign intelligence agencies setting up an alternative Far Right intelligence network to fight communism, the ‘Safari Club’. They worked with a ‘shadow CIA’ of disaffected US intelligence veterans to prevent Carter’s re-election in 1980. In July of that year William Casey, Reagan’s campaign manager and later CIA director, agreed during secret negotiations with Israeli and Iranian representatives that the Islamic Republic would keep the hostages in the US embassy (taken in retaliation over the admission of the Shah to the US) until Reagan had been elected, after which the new administration would supply Iran with arms (via Israel), in return for the hostages.
Kennedy, Nixon and Carter were not the only victims of their own Deep State. In the UK, machinations against Labour prime minister Harold Wilson in the 1970s and even strategic assassinations to prevent the entourage of Margaret Thatcher from reorganising MI5 and MI6; in Australia, the removal of Labour prime minister Gough Whitlam also in the mid 1970s, must also be taken into account. 

Still today, this Five Eyes connection is at the heart of the Western intelligence network spanning the globe. Within the Five Eyes, GCHQ is the closest NSA ally; the US has paid at least GBP 100 million over the last three years to secure access to its databases and work on joint encryption-breaking programmes. Next is Canada (the Communications Services Establishment Canada, CSEC). They are states within the state who do deal with terrorists, although not always in ways one would expect. They also will not shrink from removing their own elected leaders. To this network the Dutch law on blanket surveillance, which will be subject to a consultative referendum in March, also adds the intelligence facilities of the Netherlands.

Kees van der Pijl

For a complete text with full references see Surveillance Capitalism and Crisis

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