by Frank Camp, Daily Wire:
Over the last several years, the term “Deep State” has been used frequently by both President Trump, during speeches and on social media, as well as by some Trump-supporting pundits. President Trump and the commentators who support him often use the term to describe a group of bureaucratic insiders who want the president out of office.
These individuals represent a loosely-connected web of unelected bureaucrats, often left over from previous administrations, who allegedly utilize their intel and reach in order to disrupt the agenda of the president and his allies.
But what exactly is the Deep State? Who exactly are the Deep State players? What damage can they do? And what can be done to stop them?
On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to speak with Bryan Dean Wright, a former CIA officer who now serves as a contract instructor for the military. Wright, a self-described “lifelong Democrat,” was not only able to answer my questions about the Deep State, but provide incredible insight into this not-so-well-understood world of leakers and bad actors.
In part one of this interview, Wright discusses his own background in the CIA, the origins of what we would call the modern “Deep State,” the bad actors operating from the inside, the damage they have done, and much more.
DW: What was your former job at the CIA?
WRIGHT: I first served as an operations officer. These are the folks that, in short, go abroad to recruit spies and steal secrets. I did that for a number of years, then transitioned to the private sector and did some work in New York. I went back into the agency after a hiatus and served as what’s called a targeting officer. That role finds the people and organizations that can fill in the gaps of our understanding of particular adversaries, specifically their leadership and their plans and intentions. I developed targeting packages of how to get in front of those people and recruit them as clandestine sources.
DW: Why did you decide to leave the agency?
WRIGHT: The original reason back in the mid-2000s was because my brother needed to go into rehab for his alcohol addiction, and unfortunately my family didn’t have the money to send him. So, I had to go in the private sector and earn it. Once I was able to do that – after my brother achieved his sobriety – I got back into the agency.
And then in December of 2015, I left for the second and final time. The reason I left then was more out of sorrow and anger for what I saw happening. And it really gets to the issue of the “Deep State.” I met with a bunch of people that were tied-in to some of our covert action operations – I was reviewing and auditing them – and these senior executives weren’t taking it seriously or tried to hinder my efforts. A lot of people didn’t want to have accountability for their failures. Or, secondarily, they didn’t want to have to go back to the National Security Council or even the President or Vice President and say, “Actually, what we’ve been telling you was wrong, or it wasn’t quite true.” And so I became very frustrated and I just didn’t see myself being complicit with that degree of unprofessionalism at a minimum or flat out treachery at worst. So, I transitioned out.
DW: What is your primary job now?
WRIGHT: I serve as a contract instructor for the military – and some of those details I can’t dive into at present – but that’s part of what I do. And I spend a lot of time writing and going on different TV outlets, Fox in particular, to talk in part about national security-related issues.
I also write and talk a lot about politics. As a lifelong Democrat, I share with my readers and audiences what I see as this horrific drift by the party away from what I grew up with in the Pacific Northwest: a moderate, sensible Democratic Party. For instance, I remember men like Tom Foley, former Speaker of the House, who was from rural Eastern Washington. Or a guy like Cecil Andrus, a sensible, no-nonsense Democratic Governor of Idaho. These folks are the Democrats who I grew up with, and my family was a part of. But that is no longer the party that we see. Instead, we see the party of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Tom Perez, and it’s these absolute bonkers elements that I don’t identify with, are horrifying, and I think ultimately will bring the entirety of the Democratic Party down. And if that’s what has to happen, well, I hope the Republicans can keep a light on for me.
DW: So, what is the “Deep State?” We hear it all the time in conservative media, especially on outlets like Fox News. But what is the “Deep State” really?
WRIGHT: To understand the Deep State, you have to understand a man named Aldrich Ames. He was a CIA officer who, in the 1980s, decided to commit treason and work for the Soviet Union, and his treachery cost the lives of many of our Soviet agents. When Ames was asked why he did it, his response was this, “I know what’s best for foreign policy and national security … and I’m going to act on that.” That’s the definition and the ethos of the Deep State. It’s an unelected group of men and women with profound powers of the surveillance state who use those powers to advance their own interests, whether it be personal or partisan.
And that last bit I think is important. Why do they do it? In the distant past, guys like Aldrich Ames, they’d leak to our enemies because of ego and for money. But in the recent past, like what we’ve seen with Former FBI Director James Comey, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and former Director of the CIA John Brennan, they’re leaking to The New York Times or CNN because, yes ego and money, but clearly a sense of partisan warfare. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t discount their ego and monetary motivations. I mean, look, they’ve taken paid media contributorships and I’m sure it makes them feel very important. But what we’re seeing is more than that. It’s partisan, and it’s personal. I think that’s different and that’s frightening. I would say that, in essence, is the “Deep State,” and that is what’s driving Deep State actors today.
DW: This may be a bit of a redundant question, but who are the Deep State? Who would you identify as major Deep State actors?
WRIGHT: In the recent past, Comey, Brennan, Clapper are the most obvious, big names. But based on the IG reports, we’re also seeing more mid-level bureaucrats, like the Lisa Pages and the Peter Strzoks and the Bruce Ohrs. These are Deep Staters: folks who are unelected and frankly unaccountable to anyone, using their power and knowledge to satisfy a personal agenda, irrespective of the law. That’s certainly what we’ve seen in the IG reports regarding Crossfire Hurricane, and it’s clear that these bureaucrats had no problem executing their own partisan or personal agendas believing their relative anonymity would hide them from accountability.
I think that those individuals are just the ones we know about. And I think, God willing, Attorney General Bill Barr and United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut John Durham are going to flush out other actors and bring them to account, and lead to further clarity on if indeed the Comeys and Brennans and Clappers of the intelligence community can be brought forward on charges. That’s certainly the hope if the facts allow.
DW: In what malign activities specifically have members of this Deep State participated?
WRIGHT: Let’s start with Comey. We know that he was leaking to The New York Times, and he wasn’t leaking because he had any reasonable belief that President Trump was up to no good. I mean, the IG has shown conclusively that he was leaking to advance his own personal interests. In fact, [it] labeled Comey as a dangerous example to the tens of thousands of current and former FBI employees. So, that opens up this horrific floodgate of the Aldrich Ames ethos that, if you think that you know best for national security or foreign policy, that you, FBI employee, can damage whomever you’d like. You, Mr. FBI or CIA employee, who has access to secret human or signals intelligence – emails, phone calls – you get to decide what material should be leaked to kneecap politicians you don’t like. Oh, and you will face no consequences for it! That, I think, is the horrific legacy that Comey leaves behind.
And again, let’s emphasize something here: Comey knew early on that Trump was not going to be found guilty of having engaged in impropriety with the Russian government. Comey had participated with others in the intelligence community to investigate these allegations. He and the others knew, in early 2017 if not before, that there was nothing there. Think of this: if the intelligence community had any information in 2016 or 2017 that Trump was a Russian spy, they wouldn’t have sat on it. They would have immediately gotten it to Mueller or folks on Capitol Hill, and they would have rightfully brought that forward to the American people and removed the president. But that didn’t happen.
So, certainly Comey has a very clear record, demonstrated record, of doing a number of things that weren’t just atypical, but that were wrong. And again, I think that’s what AG Barr and John Durham are trying to fully flush out.
I think that the other characters – John Brennan especially, but also Comey and Clapper – used the dossier and Christopher Steele as pawns in a political game. Both Steele and his dossier were known to be unreliable in the fall of 2016. Indeed, by mid January 2017, Brennan was specifically on record as saying he gave the dossier no particular credence, according to The Wall Street Journal. Well, that’s amazing. Because they included that dossier in a brief to not only then President-elect Trump, but to then President Obama and Joe Biden and, of course, the principals on Capitol Hill. Why would they have done that? There was no legal or intelligence value. They knew Steele and the dossier were verified garbage. But they briefed it anyway. To lots of people.
As a former intelligence officer, I can tell you that this isn’t normal operating procedure. At all. You don’t brief an unvetted document like the dossier to the president-elect and tell him that he’s a corrupt Russian traitor. And you certainly wouldn’t do it if you had already done a degree of investigation and found that there was no veracity to any of the claims. I mean, hell, you don’t even have to be an intelligence officer to understand that.