I first heard this term five years ago during an interview Bill Moyers conducted with a former Republican congressional staffer named Mike Lofgren. Below is a link to that interview and Lofgren’s capsule definition of the Deep State:
Mike Lofgren, a former GOP congressional staff member with the powerful House and Senate Budget Committees, joins Bill to talk about what he calls the Deep State, a hybrid of corporate America and the national security state, which is “out of control” and “unconstrained.” In it, Lofgren says, elected and unelected figures collude to protect and serve powerful vested interests.
“It is … the red thread that runs through the history of the last three decades. It is how we had deregulation, financialization of the economy, the Wall Street bust, the erosion or our civil liberties and perpetual war,” Lofgren tells Bill.
Spokesmen for this powerful Deep State have weaponized the terms for the discussion of anything in America. They have, by crude yet masterful redirection, redefined the term Deep State itself to mean a sinister conspiracy among career public servants, the people of the diplomatic corps, long-serving members of American intelligence and law enforcement agencies, other nonpartisan federal government employees.
“Unelected career bureaucrats” spits our president, referring to disloyal rats who hate the freedom of our greatest citizens to deregulate, financialize the economy, protect criminal practices on Wall Street, limit civil liberties (for dissidents and terrorists) and engage in extremely lucrative permanent war. These unelected career bureaucrats show their hatred by personal acts of disloyalty to the duly elected president. They do this because the Deep State hates our freedom (that part is true, it just depends on whose freedom we are discussing, the 1%’s freedom to acquire unlimited wealth without regulation of any kind or everybody else’s freedom). In the old days we called these evil fuckers what they have been called for eons “The Jews” — the devils who control everything hateful and oppressive in the world.
We have a loud-mouthed, hyper-opinionated president now charging our career public servants with partisan bias and treason and his handlers have seized on the catchy term “Deep State” to describe this organized conspiracy trying to overturn the electoral mandate that swept our democratically elected president into office, with his historically svelte, ingeniously engineered 78,000 Electoral College margin, a groundswell of popular support. This Deep State, says our populist billionaire president, wants to make rats out of loyal partisans, is like the Nazis in its determination to lynch our greatest president — (if not outright put him in a vernichtungslager), illegally demands documents and testimony trying to prove some imaginary crime, acting like a bunch of lawless hooligans. The Deep State, according to our president, is a lynch mob.
Alternative facts, ladies and gentlemen.
A hybrid of the corporate powers (and their unlimited lobbying and political campaign money– they can actually purchase legislators, and are backed legally by long-time corporatists like Chief Justice John Roberts) and the national security state (the expansive secret, sometimes illegal surveillance state exposed by Edward Snowden and his ilk), our actual American Deep State — the public-private partnership for the enrichment of the few– has been in increasingly profitable business for more than a century.
The ongoing use of the American military and covert intelligence agencies in the service of corporate interests is well-known, even if little discussed. As retired Marine general Smedley Butler , “The Fighting Quaker”, said after a career fighting in the Philippines, China, in Central America and the Caribbean during the Banana Wars, and France in World War I:
I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer; a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902–1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have givenAl Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.
Don’t let the so-called facts fool you. Listen to your duly elected president, who loves you. He loves you! The Deep State is actually the unelected career bureaucrats who are treasonously defying presidential orders to dummy up, give no testimony, provide no documents to Congress. These are disloyal, traitorous people who nobody elected, unlike the best, the most loyal people the president has placed in the most powerful positions in the Executive Branch. Excellent, unimpeachably great people like Mick Mulvaney, Bill Barr, Mike “first in his class” Pompeo, Steve Mnuchin, Betsey DeVos, Rudy.
Who are you going to believe, a brilliant president who lies publicly many times a day, or a bunch of disgruntled Deep State operatives who treacherously defy his orders to show how much they hate democracy? COME ON, AMERICA!
 Smedley Butler:
In 1933, he became involved in a controversy known as the Business Plot, when he told a congressional committee that a group of wealthy industrialists were planning a military coup to overthrow Franklin D. Roosevelt, with Butler selected to lead a march of veterans to become dictator, similar to Fascist regimes at that time. The individuals involved all denied the existence of a plot and the media ridiculed the allegations, but a final report by a special House of Representatives Committee confirmed some of Butler’s testimony.
In 1935, Butler wrote a book titled War Is a Racket, where he described and criticized the workings of the United States in its foreign actions and wars, such as those in which he had been involved, including the American corporations and other imperialist motivations behind them. After retiring from service, he became a popular advocate, speaking at meetings organized by veterans, pacifists, and church groups in the 1930s.