Tomorrow at 7 p.m. Eastern Time is the fourth speaker in our ongoing weekly conference “Restoring Our Civil Liberties.” Our speaker is Michael Glennon. We are in store for one of the best and most insightful talks on the critical importance of civil liberties that has ever been presented at The Future of Freedom Foundation.
Glennon is the author of a book entitled National Security and Double Government. Longtime readers of my articles know that I highly recommend reading this book. Its thesis might shock you.
Glennon’s thesis is that it is the national-security establishment — i.e., the Pentagon, CIA, and NSA — that are actually in charge of running the federal government.
That’s right — not the executive branch, not the legislative branch, and not the judicial branch, as we have all been taught in our high-school civics classes and our college political science courses.
Glennon holds that the real power of the federal government is wielded by the national-security part of the federal government. It permits the other three branches to maintain the appearance of power because the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA don’t care about appearances. What they care about is the fact that they are actually running the show.
Consider the recent revelation that America’s top military officer, Gen. Mark Milley, saw fit to make telephone calls to a Chinese military counterpart in the waning days of the Trump administration to assure the Chinese that the United States would not launch a nuclear attack against them.
No, Milley did not consult with President Trump before making those calls. He did it because he was in charge. He points out that that he advised Trump officials that he was making the calls, but advising that calls are being made is a far cry from asking for permission to make the calls. The fact that Milley didn’t seek the president’s permission to make the calls and instead made them whether the president liked it or not tends to confirm Glennon’s thesis.
Consider the fact that last month the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved at $768 billion budget for the Pentagon. This despite the fact the Pentagon is no longer spending any money on its forever war in Afghanistan.
Moreover, get this: According to MSNBC, the bill gave the Pentagon $25 billion more than what President Biden was requesting! It had the support of 181 Democrats. A proposed amendment to cut the Department of Defense budget by 10 percent lost by a margin of 86-332.
The fact is that Congress is owned lock, stock, and barrel by the national-security establishment. Whatever the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA want from Congress, they get. If any congressman dares to buck the national-security establishment, it will target his district with cancelations of military projects or base closings. The local press and his opponent in the next congressional race will condemn and brand him as an ineffective congressman. He will be toast. Moreover, just look at how many members of Congress are now military and CIA veterans. Is it any wonder that President Eisenhower initially planned to use the term “military-industrial-congressional complex” in his famous Farewell Address in 1961?
As Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer pointed out when Trump was president, it is “really dumb” for the president to take on the intelligence agencies because “they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”
This deference to the national-security establishment’s authority also holds true for the U.S. Supreme Court. Most nations, for example, have a state-secrets doctrine that has been enacted into law by the legislative branch of the government. Not here. When the Pentagon demanded as early as 1953 that the Supreme Court gave it a state-secrets doctrine judicially, the Supreme Court meekly complied. Even when it was later discovered that the military had defrauded the Court into granting it its state-secrets doctrine, the Court kept it intact. Keep in mind also the fact that the Supreme Court has permitted the Pentagon and the CIA to keep people incarcerated indefinitely and tortured for more than 15 years at Guantanamo Bay, notwithstanding express prohibitions against such abuses in the Bill of Rights.
Glennon has a new book coming out next year that will be published by Oxford University Press. It’s about freedom of speech, the critically important civil liberty whose protection is enshrined in the First Amendment.
Glennon’s talk will be via Zoom. Admission price: FREE. Just register at our conference web page and a Zoom link will be sent to you. The talk will be about 50 minutes to 1 hour long. It will be followed by Q&A. I’ll be moderating the program. I hope you will join us for what I am sure is going to be a great talk. 7 p.m. Eastern time, Tuesday, October 5.