The Deep State: The Unelected Shadow Government Is Here To Stay

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government, owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people.” ? Theodore Roosevelt

America’s next president will inherit more than a bitterly divided nation teetering on the brink of financial catastrophe when he or she assumes office. He will also inherit a shadow government, one that is fully operational and staffed by unelected officials who are, in essence, running the country.

To be precise, however, the future president will actually inherit not one but two shadow governments.

The first shadow government, referred to as COG or continuity of government, is made up of unelected individuals who have been appointed to run the government in the event of a “catastrophe.”


The second shadow government, referred to as the Deep State, is comprised of unelected government bureaucrats, corporations, contractors, paper-pushers, and button-pushers who are actually calling the shots behind the scenes right now.

The first shadow government, COG, is a phantom menace waiting for the right circumstances—a terrorist attack, a natural disaster, an economic meltdown—to bring it out of the shadows, where it operates even now. When and if COG takes over, the police state will transition to martial law.

Yet as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, it is the second shadow government, the Deep State, which poses the greater threat to our freedoms. This permanent, corporatized, militarized, entrenched bureaucracy is unaffected by elections, unaltered by populist movements, and beyond the reach of the law.

This is the hidden face of the police state.

These two shadow governments, which make a mockery of representative government and the “reassurance ritual” of voting, have been a long time in the making. Yet they have been so shrouded in secrecy, well hidden from the eyes and ears of the American people, that they exist and function in contravention to the principles of democratic government.

As the following makes clear, these shadow governments, which operate beyond the reach of the Constitution and with no real accountability to the citizenry, are the reason why “we the people” have no control over our government.

The COG shadow government plan was devised during the Cold War as a means of ensuring that a nuclear strike didn’t paralyze the federal government.

COG initially called for three teams consisting of a cabinet member, an executive chief of staff and military and intelligence officials to practice evacuating and directing a counter nuclear strike against the Soviet Union from a variety of high-tech, mobile command vehicles. If the president and vice president were both killed, one of these teams would take control, with the ranking cabinet official serving as president.

This all changed after the attacks of September 11, 2001, when it became clear that there would be no warning against a terrorist attack. Instead of waiting until an attack occurred to mobilize part-time bureaucrats and activate evacuation schemes, George W. Bush opted to change COG and establish a full-time, permanent shadow government, stationed outside the capital, run by permanently appointed (not elected) executive officials.

COG has since taken on a power—and a budget—of its own.

Incredibly, under the Obama administration, the plans for the shadow government have expanded and grown far more elaborate and costly than many realize. It is what investigative journalist William M. Arkin refers to as “the latest manifestation of an obsession with government survival.”

In much the same way that the nation was taken hostage after 9/11 by color-coded terror alerts and “See Something, Say Something” campaigns that transformed us into a fearful, watchful nation of suspects, the government’s efforts to prepare us for a so-called national disaster have, in turn, left us a constant state of near-emergency and acclimated us to the sight of militarized police, military drills on American soil, privatized prisons, the specter of internment camps, and the erosion of constitutional rights, especially as they pertain to so-called “extremists,” domestic or otherwise.

Study the COG plans carefully, however, and you’ll find that the concern isn’t so much about protecting our government as it is about protecting the nation’s governmental elite.

As Arkin reports: “Countless billions have been spent on this endeavor over the years, a secret orgy of preparedness going on behind the scenes, one that ensures Washington can defend itself, take care of its own, and survive no matter what.”

To this end, the government has invested heavily in the “architecture of fear”: massive underground bunkers—the size of small cities—which are sprinkled throughout the country for the government elite to escape to “in case of an imminent nuclear strike so that they can set up a kind of Administration-in-exile, directing every order of business from retaliation to recovery.”

These bunkers, strategically located around the nation’s capital and in key states, represent a who’s who on the shadow government’s payroll, with every department and agency represented, from the Department of Education and the Trademark Office to the Small Business Administration and the National Archives.

No sector has been overlooked: military, surveillance, counterintelligence, scientific, political, judicial, corporate contractors, as well as computer programmers, engineers, fire fighters, craftsmen, security guards, branch chiefs, financial managers, supply officers, secretaries and stenographers, all of whom have been entrusted with special ID cards allowing them clearance into the doomsday survival sites. They’ve even included individuals tasked with patent and trademark processing. They even have contingency plans to save priceless works of art.

The Federal Relocation Arc near Washington DC will reportedly serve as the emergency bunker for “every Cabinet department (and every government organization deemed essential).” Site R, a 700,000-foot facility inside Raven Rock Mountain near Camp David, will serve as a backup Pentagon. Peters Mountain near Charlottesville, Va., is the likely site for the nation’s domestic spies to hide out. Congress will retire to a subterranean facility near the posh Greenbrier resort in West Virginia, which served as an internment facility for Japanese, Italian and German diplomats during World War II. And a 600,000-square-foot complex inside Virginia’s Mount Weather is expected to be the primary relocation site for the White House, the Supreme Court and much of the executive branch.

Built into the side of a mountain, Mount Weather, near Bluemont, Va., is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This self-contained facility contains, among other things, a hospital, crematorium, dining and recreation areas, sleeping quarters, reservoirs of drinking and cooling water, an emergency power plant, a radio/television studio and a full-time police and fire department.

There is also an Office of the Presidency at Mount Weather, which regularly receives top-secret national security information from all the federal departments and agencies. This facility was largely unknown to everyone, including Congress, until it came to light in the mid-1970s. Military personnel connected to the bunker have refused to reveal any information about it, even before congressional committees. In fact, Congress has no oversight, budgetary or otherwise, on Mount Weather, and the specifics of the facility remain top-secret.

These facilities reinforce a troubling government mindset that treats the American people as relatively insignificant and expendable. Because you know who’s not on the list of key-individuals-to-be-saved-in-the-eventuality-of-a-disaster? You and me and every other American citizen who is viewed as a mere economic unit to be tallied, bought and sold by those in power.

Not to worry, however. The government hasn’t completely forgotten about us.

In the event of a “national emergency”—loosely defined as “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions”—the executive branch and its unelected appointees will be given unchecked executive, legislative and judicial power.

In such an event, the Constitution will effectively be suspended, thereby ushering in martial law.

However, writing for Radar magazine, Christopher Ketcham suggests that the government won’t have completely forgotten about the rest of us. In fact, Ketcham believes that the government also has plans to imprison hundreds of thousands of “potentially suspect” Americans in detention camps.

Ketcham describes a program created by the Department of Homeland Security that relies on a database of Americans who might be considered potential threats in the event of a national emergency. Referred to by the code name Main Core, this database reportedly contains the names of millions of Americans who, “often for the slightest and most trivial reason, are considered unfriendly, and who, in a time of panic, might be incarcerated. The database can identify and locate perceived ‘enemies of the state’ almost instantaneously.”

Sounds unnervingly like the objectives of the government’s new Domestic Terrorism Czar and the Strong Cities network, which will be working to identify and target potential extremists, doesn’t it?

Under Ketcham's scenario, if a terrorist attack occurs, the president will declare a national emergency, activating COG procedures and throwing the country into martial law with the shadow government at the helm. The administration will then round up the “dangerous” Americans listed in Main Core and place them in one of the many internment camps or private prisons built for just such an eventuality.

For all intents and purposes, the nation is one national “emergency” away from having a full-fledged, unelected, authoritarian state emerge from the shadows. All it will take is the right event—another terrorist attack, perhaps, or a natural disaster—for such a regime to emerge from the shadows.

As unnerving as that prospect may be, however, it is the second shadow government, what former congressional staffer Mike Lofgren refers to as “the Deep State, which operates according to its own compass heading regardless of who is formally in power,” that poses the greater threat right now.

Consider this: how is it that partisan gridlock has seemingly jammed up the gears (and funding sources) in Washington, yet the government has been unhindered in its ability to wage endless wars abroad, in the process turning America into a battlefield and its citizens into enemy combatants?

The credit for such relentless, entrenched, profit-driven governance, according to Lofgren, goes to “another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose.”

This “state within a state” hides “mostly in plain sight, and its operators mainly act in the light of day,” says Lofgren, and yet the “Deep State does not consist of the entire government.”

Rather, Lofgren continues:

It is a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department. I also include the Department of the Treasury because of its jurisdiction over financial flows, its enforcement of international sanctions and its organic symbiosis with Wall Street.


All these agencies are coordinated by the Executive Office of the President via the National Security Council. Certain key areas of the judiciary belong to the Deep State, such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, whose actions are mysterious even to most members of Congress. Also included are a handful of vital federal trial courts, such as the Eastern District of Virginia and the Southern District of Manhattan, where sensitive proceedings in national security cases are conducted.


The final government component (and possibly last in precedence among the formal branches of government established by the Constitution) is a kind of rump Congress consisting of the congressional leadership and some (but not all) of the members of the defense and intelligence committees. The rest of Congress, normally so fractious and partisan, is mostly only intermittently aware of the Deep State and when required usually submits to a few well-chosen words from the State’s emissaries.

In an expose titled “Top Secret America,” The Washington Post revealed the private side of this shadow government, made up of 854,000 contract personnel with top-secret clearances, “a number greater than that of top-secret-cleared civilian employees of the government.”

Reporting on the Post’s findings, Lofgren points out:

These contractors now set the political and social tone of Washington, just as they are increasingly setting the direction of the country, but they are doing it quietly, their doings unrecorded in the Congressional Record or the Federal Register, and are rarely subject to congressional hearings…

The Deep State not only holds the nation’s capital in thrall, but it also controls Wall Street (“which supplies the cash that keeps the political machine quiescent and operating as a diversionary marionette theater”) and Silicon Valley.

As Lofgren concludes:

[T]he Deep State is so heavily entrenched, so well protected by surveillance, firepower, money and its ability to co-opt resistance that it is almost impervious to change… If there is anything the Deep State requires it is silent, uninterrupted cash flow and the confidence that things will go on as they have in the past. It is even willing to tolerate a degree of gridlock: Partisan mud wrestling over cultural issues may be a useful distraction from its agenda.

Remember this the next time you find yourselves mesmerized by the antics of the 2016 presidential candidates or drawn into a politicized debate over the machinations of Congress, the president or the judiciary: it’s all intended to distract you from the fact that you have no authority and no rights in the face of the shadow governments.

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gdogus erectus's picture

Correct! We are waking up too fast!

El Vaquero's picture

And its power is tied to the status of the USD as the WRC. 


Besides, worst case scenario is WWIII.  In the event of a nuclear holocaust, they won't have the infrastructure to rule, no matter how much planning they have done. 

DeadFred's picture

Most of their planning relies on electronics. There databases will be worth squat if an EMP or flare takes out the system.

They can talk to themselves all they want on their hardened systems but orders will need to get out to the field.

NidStyles's picture

Further proving that ZH is merely an intelligence front now.



This article is basically telling us that there is no hope, and that the deep state, which is really just the communists conspiring together, is never going away. Typical Communist dogmatic propaganda. 



Just trying to imagine why any Nationalist would want any of this intelligence monster in their country. They wouldn't. Only a leftist would fear the public enough to want something like this. I am sure by now they figured out that their plans will not work, so they try to convince everyone that they have to give in because they can't win. It's complete bullshit obviously. 


Also, Goebbels hasn't got shit on me. and Bagdad Bob was a farce.

fudge's picture

Further proving that ZH is merely an intelligence front now.

I understand your point of view, but, selective 'reporting' [click for profit] does not necessarily make ZH merely an intelligence front.


nmewn's picture


Which media venue unapologetically presents an RT article right alongside a Fox article? A Rutherford Institute article alongside a HuffPo piece?

I would submit it's ZH.

"Referred to by the code name Main Core, this database reportedly contains the names of millions of Americans who, “often for the slightest and most trivial reason, are considered unfriendly, and who, in a time of panic, might be incarcerated. The database can identify and locate perceived ‘enemies of the state’ almost instantaneously.”

I know I'm on that list, come friends, join me on that list. You cannot be, by definition, a true American without being on that list ;-)

shovelhead's picture

My guess is that if you comment on ZH, you're already on that list.

Let's meet up in the camp. I'll be the guy living outside the huts because of my snoring.

Government needs you to pay taxes's picture

I'm not going out like that.  Crank the Cypress Hill, rack the slides, power up the electronic detonators, and let's get it on.  My team is good for a platoon with an armored detachment, and well take prisoners . . . striaight to the belt sanding and chainsaw stations.  Vita portior libertas.  

pods's picture

I like the giant hole in the ground meme. Like being stuck in a wallmart with an HOA, school board, dmv, and courts.  

News flash, maybe we aren't jealous of  your obsession with survival?

These places will be giant, stinky tombs staffed by 5% of planned people. There will be obedience in there though.  

Come on people, live free and leave the holes for the rats. 


nmewn's picture

Exactly. Blind obedience doesn't make one an American, in fact quite the opposite ;-) 

kralizec's picture

Libertatem non possunt iuxta tyrannidem!

Memedada's picture

Yep, private institutions (capital) controlling the government is communism (/zarc).

It’s futile to have these kinds of posts on ZH – the ZH-crowd is predominantly indoctrinated right-wingers who see everything they don’t like (as they have been thought by their corporate masters) as communism/stateism. It’s a farce. I’m far from a communist – and more ‘FREEDOM/LIBERTY’- (again, empty slogans for most ZH’ers) oriented than any on this site – but I know what communism is. What’s going on in US is nothing resembling communism – it’s fascism. The merging of corporate and state power – and the former being in control of the latter. Fascism have always been supported and promoted by strong capital power (i.e. by capitalists).

And don’t waste your time replying with all the nonsense about progressivism, socialism, stateism, communism, fascism etc. etc. all being the same thing – it just proves my point. You’re clueless. Start getting educated – and no, not through any US-based universities (they’ll just approve of your world-view) and not through the first 10+ pages on Google (that’s almost always pure corporate BS).


Johnny Horscaulk's picture

+100. My understanding is the libertarian nature of most comments began to be diluted by people following links from Breitbart and Drudge. Some paleocons but an unhealthy dose of Fox News low info types who blame all the problems in the world on a term of opprobrium they are too obtuse to know they misuse.

And that is more liberty v statism than L/R or Red/Blue escapes them. As does any evidence of libertarian thinking.. Jmo.

Government needs you to pay taxes's picture

The ZHers may not cogently articulate the 'what' they are deeply uncomfortable with, but the mere fact there are so many who believe our nation is fucked beyond repair should send chills thru anyone sitting in a .govnor position of significant responsibility.  If our enemy is a group of global corporations, then there is an effective way to fight them:  impose financial losses on them.

shovelhead's picture

He knows what Communism is...wink, wink.

Memedada's picture

Yep, I do.

Communism is an ideology. Communism differ from capitalism specific in relation to the ownership of the means of production. In a communist society the economy is structured on the ‘common ownership of the means of production’ – unlike a capitalistic/fascistic economy that is based on the private ownership of the means of production (like having 0,01% owning everything = how the US economy is ‘structured’ today).

Interestingly the goal of communism is a stateless society – the state is in communism (in theory) just a vehicle to make a transition form the capitalistic economy to the communistic economy. The ‘revolutionary vanguard’ of communism have historically had this as a goal: the capture of the capitalist state in order to use the state apparatus/institutions to create the transition to communism. Obviously this never works – the communists who take the power gets corrupted by the same power and the state never ‘withers away’.

Anarchist communists have a more interestingly approach to how communism could be achieved – but that’s a different topic.

N2OJoe's picture

Yeah most of us are right wingers if by that you mean SMALL GOVERNMENT.

I don't care what 'ism you call giant tyrannical government, it's end goal and effect on the populus is the same. Does it really matter if you're rounded up and murdered by a communist or a facist?

You're dead either way, who cares which side of the coin they prefer?

Memedada's picture

TPTB does – they fear the left-wing and support the right-wing.

“Libertarianism” in US is a corporate propaganda success – a text-book example of controlled opposition:

Real libertarianism actually gives good ideas to how society could be a better, more just, free, productive and compassionate place to live. But those ideas are not even discussed – the agenda is successfully controlled by the corporate oligarchy (including the false version of libertarianism).

N2OJoe's picture

I totally agree with you on true Libertarianism, I'm just saying that the false left/right paradigm and the misunderstanding of it causes more problems for us.

Left/Right used to mean big government vs small government. Now, society in general seems to accept it as one form of tyrannical government vs another form of tyrannical government. Similar to how Liberal used to mean what Libertarian now means.

The proper wording is important precisely because the tyrants and their minions play games and constantly attempt to distort the socially accepted meanings of such words to sow confusion and derail any meaningful conversation before it gets off the ground.

Two people engaged in discourse about a specific topic cannot even begin to debate it if they have different definitions of what the topic itself is, and may not even realise that the other side has a different definition due to the constantly changing social view of it.


TLDR: Right wing does/should mean small government. We should not let TPTB change the definition to mean tyrannical government of X, Y, or Z flavor.

herkomilchen's picture

Small government is just the early stage of development of large government.  Being for small government is like being for small cancer.

Surviver22's picture
Obama will not finish his second term! Current Events Linked to Ancient Biblical Prophecy!
wtf1369's picture

Cosmic boogeyman bullshit. Next.

JRobby's picture

"Communism" a label that was applied to "governments" that ruled countries that could not be corrupted by western power groups.

A Nanny Moose's picture

Money comes and goes. Power is derived from obedience.

The Deep State is the greatest ally of free people, for it cannot, thus will not continue. The rebuilding from the resulting rubble is what matters.

fleur de lis's picture

The Deep State is completely illegitimate. It consists of psychopaths. If that many psychopaths are threatened in any way, they will split up among themselves and conspire to seize power by turning on the others in a psycho turf war. They won't think twice to eliminate their best friends if it means they keep a grip on power.

JRobby's picture

True, they know this and they know the word is spreading: The Emporer Has No Clothes.

junction's picture

Unanswered in Whitehead's article is what if the persons planning the attacks on America are also the persons in charge of the "Deep State."  Talk about hedging your bets.  After all, when the Bushes were presidents and locking everyone up for drug dealing, their accomplices (including Jeb Bush, a drug dealer already when he was in high school) were in charge of bringing in massive quantities of amphetamines into the USA from the Bush's drug labs in South America.

fudge's picture

what if the persons planning the attacks on America are also the persons in charge of the "Deep State."

There was once a movie I watched, that detailed your exact scenario. Unfortunatly I cannot remember its name but it did involve a nuclear devices

Joe Sichs Pach's picture

Could it have been a TV show?


The Lone Gunmen 


While The Lone Gunmen are thwarted in their attempt to steal a computer chip by Yves Adele Harlow, John Fitzgerald Byers receives news of his father's death and the trio soon find themselves unravelling a government conspiracy concerning an attempt to fly a commercial aircraft into the Twin Towers, with increased arms sales for the United States as an intended result.

snodgrass's picture

Hello. The same people who make up the "deep state" are the same ones who carried out 911.

Escapeclaws's picture

Why does the author call Hillary a "he"? Is he trying to imply something?

stant's picture

At least three are at war with each other

Carpenter1's picture

Most can't handle this much truth. The thot crosses their mind that nobody is going to save them, Trump, Ron Paul, or anyone else. Too much to take for most, so denial ensues.

ThroxxOfVron's picture

"These contractors now set the political and social tone of Washington, just as they are increasingly setting the direction of the country, but they are doing it quietly, their doings unrecorded in the Congressional Record or the Federal Register, and are rarely subject to congressional hearings… "


...& yet one is reflexively accused of harboring outlandish conspiracy theories and of dangerous paranoia to assert any such thing in public.


Free Masons and Knights Templar? 

Fascist Shadow Govt'?

Dual Passport Red Shield Operatives?

Old Aristocracy cum modern shell corporation cloaked Oligarchy?


Does the manner(s) in which these feudalist power mongering bureucracies might be organized matter or is their existance and their expropriation of resources and power significant in and of itself?

allamerican's picture

thanks for update..

Peak Finance's picture

Do you know that it's over for you? 

15 Years ago something like this article would have scared the hell out of me.

Now I just laugh.

Too late guys, ITS FUCKING OVER FOR YOU. All the wealth's gone, you fucking blew it. You traded real capital-producing wealth for digits and bits of paper, and sent the real economic power overseas. We also know the gold is gone, and that you can't fucking print food to feed your merc armies families, it's fucking OVER.  

Of course many will still die as the beast lashes out in it's death tantrum. We still have to play out this last dance as if we don't already know the outcome. 

Odegaard Falls's picture

people seem to survive on the continent of Africa and it is apparently hell, just gotta toughen the fuck up, do some push ups, squats, start running, stop fuckin' whining.

Calmyourself's picture

The muscle brings an appetite, like 6-8,000 calories a day.  Better off leaning out..

pods's picture

8k calories a day?  

You cannot burn that much energy when you are spending your entire day eating.

I have a hummingbird on crack metabolism, and I find it hard to function and choke down 4k a day.


jtz5's picture

I will say that after nearly every Repub candidate (sans Kasich & Bush, two bankers) railroaded the Fed Res, there is no way they let the markets crash until after the 2016 election.

DrPepperJawa's picture

In the event of a nuclear exchange all these bunker sites would receive a ground burst.  No COG for you.

Calmyourself's picture

5 meg ground burst keep digging bitches..

Yen Cross's picture

 Anyone that uses the term "Phantom Menace", in the first two paragraphs of an financial article is either Chinese, or Childish.

Arnold's picture

You are my meat.


--Darth Maul

Minburi's picture

Most of the population of the US will soon be like deer caught in headlights.

Niall Of The Nine Hostages's picture

*snicker* He?

The next president will be Huma Abedin, with her "mommy" Hillary as her voicepiece, because the proles aren't ready for an openly Muslim president.

Now that's settled:

Who the fuck are they trying to kid? This is security theatre of biblical proportions.

A nuclear strike on anybody in a position to respond in kind (and not a false flag---Hillary nuking Little Rock out of spite and blaming Putin, say) would be the undoing of mankind. Even assuming some plants worth eating aren't driven into extinction by nuclear winter, your only realistic chance of survival is a hermetically sealed, lead-lined bunker deep underground stocked with enough food, water and energy to last a hundred years, because it won't be safe to come out for at least that long.

Mount Weather isn't a shelter. It's a mass grave.

As so often, the Israelis are more clear-sighted than we are. They know nuclear war would be the undoing of the Jews. Their priority is seeing to it the Philistines die with them. 

Johnny Horscaulk's picture

As I recall it was the Jews (Israelites) who went about the area of Palestine murdering and genociding first, no?

And later ethnically cleansed 750k natives, destroying around 400 long standing villages claiming divine and exclusive right to 'Israel' while still mostly living outside it - correct?

And killing millions of innocent people far removed from any theoretical existential attack on Israel is justified why, exactly?

Is it because under Orthodox, fundamentalist Judaism only Jews are human?'s_shocking_religious_defense_of_killing_non-jews_(with_video)

It is difficult to read the Torah and not come away with the distinct impression that the racism and supremacism and xenophobia within has contributed to the feeling of some that religious Zionists are clear sighted only as to the speck of dust in the eyes of the 'Philistines.'


DanDaley's picture

It's funny, but I was talking to an orthodox rabbi a few weeks ago, and he said that the vast majority of Jews are not even Jews because they fail to uphold the Levitican dietary and other laws of the Torah. He was kind of a 1%-er, so to speak. I guess everybody thinks they're special, no exceptions.

DragonWings's picture

...I do not think there is such a thing as a deep state intended as a structured organization acting with an hunanimous programme. I see just a bunch of powerful individuals acting in sync because they are motivated by the same greed and lust for more power without however being assimilated into an organic structure per se.

What worries me the most, is that they seem to lack brain and a viable long term planning. Pretty much like farmers that instead of keeping their cows alive to get milk and cheese, eventually making them mate and reproduce... they just kill it to have a good steak today, moving then to find another one for tomorrow, in a predatory but highly uncostructive way. This worries me much because it presents no future.

Leadership should be a selective process, bringing to the top... the best. Something got broken, evidently...