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OPINION

Deep State and Congress: Who Controls Who?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File

Donald Trump warned Americans about the Deep State. Instead of listening, Democrats (the Party of yore that actually cared about abusive government power) and their cronies in the Mainstream Media mocked him for peddling an “Alt-Right conspiracy.” 

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Not only do we now have more than sufficient proof that the Deep State exists, but clear evidence it has grown stronger, bolder, and more dangerous. In just the past week, two shocking reports have come to light that detail the extent to which the Deep State has flourished in the shadows. 

The first comes from Senators Ron Wyden and Martin Heinrich, who, in a just-declassified letter to the country’s top Foreign Intelligence officials, called for full disclosure of a previously classified, April 2021 report by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB). That report details how the CIA “secretly conducted its own bulk program…entirely outside the statutory framework that Congress and the public believe govern this collection, and without any of the judicial, congressional or even executive branch oversight…” 

The second example of Deep State growth comes in a public filing just last week in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, by Special Counsel John Durham, who was appointed by President Trump in 2019 to investigate FBI wrongdoing. The document details what amounts to a clear conspiracy to infiltrate the office of candidate Trump, President-elect Trump, and then President Trump; not only unlawfully gathering information on him, but feeding it back to the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party.

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One of these allegations alone is enough to make the hair on the back of one’s neck stand on end. Together, and just from what we know publicly (usually the tip of the proverbial iceberg), it shows the Deep State is completely out of control, and nothing – not even the office of the President of the United States – is off-limits to its probing, partisan tentacles.

I worked at the CIA in the 1970s, and actually helped draft legislation that established congressional oversight committees in both the House and the Senate, supposed to guard against precisely the types of intelligence-agency abuses we now are witnessing.

There was at the time a bipartisan and media-supported understanding that the Agency’s mission was to protect the national security interests of the country and not a partisan agenda, particularly one that endorsed warrantless, bulk collection of information on American citizen in their own country. Clearly this loyalty to the Constitution and the law has frayed considerably in recent years.

The Deep State has assumed virtually unlimited powers to surveil and collect data on anyone it chooses, to be used at any time if the political need presents itself. Stopping Donald Trump from becoming -- or continuing – to serve as President is just one example. 

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Rather than take seriously the information leaked to the public by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden almost a decade ago, Congress, under both Republican and Democrat leadership, ignored opportunities to rein in illegal spying by intelligence agencies; opting instead to repeatedly reauthorize powers to agencies it knew were abusing those very tools. 

This is not a matter of Congress claiming it did not know what was going on; it knew but did not care, apparently believing that the Frankenstein monster it created and allowed to roam free, could be controlled. The question now is, who is controlling who? 

The allegations in Durham’s report constitute a damning indictment of Hillary Clinton, the Democrat Party, and allied private organizations. In today’s hyper-partisan climate, however, we are unlikely to see any meaningful response from the Biden Administration or from either the House or the Senate, insofar as both remain under Democrat control. 

Thus, in the current political situation, and with a largely somnambulant Mainstream Media, Americans for now can only pin their hopes for accountability on whatever additional indictments are issued by Durham’s office.

If Republicans retake the House and Senate in November, they will be – or should be – poised to hold congressional hearings and pass meaningful legislation that includes razor-sharp teeth to hold all components of our Foreign Intelligence establishment truly accountable to the citizenry and the Constitution. If Biden were to refuse to sign such legislation, that failure alone should be a primary issue for the 2024 Republican platform and nominee.

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Sadly, however, many Americans, I included, have learned the hard way not to hold our breath waiting for such action by the Congress. 

Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He served as the United States Attorney in Atlanta from 1986 to 1990 and was an official with the CIA in the 1970s. He now practices law in Atlanta, Georgia and serves as head of Liberty Guard.

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