The playbill changes, but the play does not

Today I am reminded of Michael Glennon’s notion (after Walter Bagehot) of “double government”.

“[T]he United States has moved beyond an imperial presidency to a system in which the gargantuan US security apparatus not only has broken free of constraints but has engulfed even the presidency itself. Contemporary US security policy is seldom formulated in the Oval Office and handed down to compliant managers in the military, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies. Instead, nerve-center policies ranging from the troop buildup in Afghanistan to ABM deployment to NSA surveillance percolate up from the Pentagon, Langley, Fort Meade, and myriad Beltway facilities with no public names. With rare exceptions, that is where options originate, plans are formulated, and strategy ultimately defined.”

“Congress, the presidency, and the courts appear to exercise decisional authority, yet their control is increasingly illusory. The real shaping of security policy is carried out quietly, in highly classified facilities, by anonymous managers the public never sees.”

Source: From Imperial Presidency to Double Government




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