They Decide What Government Does (and the President Can’t Fire Them!)

[From the print edition of The New American]

In the classic British comedy series Yes Minister from the early 1980s, career civil service bureaucrats regularly promise to carry out their minister’s instructions. After all, he is technically their boss. But as soon as the minister, a political appointee, is out of earshot, the career bureaucrats get right back to doing whatever it is they think should be done. They frequently ridicule their boss behind his back. And when the minister asks why something hasn’t been done, or why bureaucrats were doing something they were ordered not to do, the senior civil service official makes excuses, obfuscates, and then carries on with whatever he thinks ought to be done. Basically, what the minister wants matters little. What really matters is the implementation phase — or lack thereof — of policy. That is in the hands of the upper echelons of the civil service. The show, a favorite of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, is hilarious, a classic example of British humor at its finest. But when it happens in the real world, a frequent occurrence, it is much less funny. In fact, in America, it is not funny at all.

Deep within the bowels of the federal government exists a small core of powerful government officials — more than two-thirds installed on their perch during the Obama administration — who largely run the machine. Sure, President Donald Trump was able to appoint a new team that includes a few thousand political appointees, who are ostensibly in charge of running the federal bureaucracies. But between those appointees and the millions of federal employees costing taxpayers trillions of dollars when regulations are factored in is a permanent buffer or barrier of senior executives. This layer essentially has the power to sabotage any potential swamp-draining. And its members, many of them Obama acolytes and Big Government loyalists, appear determined to do that. Thanks to federal civil service laws, firing them — even for poor performance or serious problems — is extremely difficult. And already, the Trump administration is butting heads with them.

What Is the “Senior Executive Service”?

Meet the so-called Senior Executive Service (SES). This little-known group is a crucial component and tool of an apparatus that has come to be known in the public imagination as the Deep State — the Deep State is a shadowy network beyond the reach of voters, which The New American explored in more detail in the January 8 Special Issue. Officially, these are just the highest-ranked managers across the federal government, political agnostics who normally implement policy rather than set the direction of it. They are supposed to be the link between political appointees and the bloated federal bureaucracy. They have been compared to civilian “generals.” And in theory, they are supposed to follow constitutional orders that come from the people via the White House and Congress. But that does not always happen.

The SES includes most of the federal government’s managerial and policy positions above the General Schedule (GS) grade 15, the highest rank before SES. And while the feds often downplay the importance of it, when it’s mentioned at all, it is clearly a powerful group. The Congressional Research Service (CRS), for instance, described it in a 2012 report as a “centralized cadre of senior leaders in the government.” “These leaders operate and oversee nearly every Government activity in approximately 75 Federal agencies,” the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which oversees it, explains on its website. According to data from OPM’s Enterprise Human Resources Integration tool cited by Government Executive, almost 70 percent of SES members were appointed to their positions during the Obama administration.

But the key role of the SES in the Deep State was long ago recognized by Deep State bigwigs. In January of 1989, shortly after taking office, President George H.W. Bush, a Deep State insider and a fervent advocate of what he called a “New World Order” run by a “credible United Nations” and its “peacekeeping” forces, spoke to the SES before anyone else. “You’re the first group that I am addressing as President outside the White House, and you’re one of the most important groups I will ever speak to,” Bush told the SES in a speech. “I believe that there is tremendous pent-up energy in the Federal Government, a powerful force for good that needs to be released. And I want to be the President to do that, to release the Federal manager from bureaucratic bondage so that together we can, as I said on the steps of the Capitol, use power to serve people.” He called on the SES to get busy on “education,” “protecting the environment,” “fighting crime,” and much more.

The stated purpose of the statute that created this permanent centralized cadre was to “ensure that the executive management of the Government of the United States is responsive to the needs, policies, and goals of the nation and otherwise is of the highest quality.” But more than a few analysts and critics have instead referred to the SES as the “shadow government” or even the “secret government” in Washington, D.C. And in a very real sense, it is. Lawmakers are voted in and out of office every few years. Presidents and their political appointees come and go. But the Senior Executive Service transcends it all. Indeed, as the CRS put it in its 2012 report, the SES is a “centralized corps of senior leaders providing consistent leadership across administrations.” (Emphasis added.) This elite caste “was designed to be largely insulated from political influence,” the CRS report added.

The Deep State has always liked the idea of having consistent governance, regardless of the people’s wishes. As Deep State loyalist and Bill Clinton mentor Carroll Quigley put it in his incredibly revealing book Tragedy & Hope, “The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea, acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can ‘throw the rascals out’ at any election, without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy.” The SES appears to exist to help ensure that this vision of government is the dominant one in Washington, D.C., and beyond.

The Shadow Government Deep State

Best-selling author Jerome Corsi, a prominent conservative whose most recent book is Killing the Deep State: The Fight to Save President Trump, described the SES as a crucial tentacle of the Deep State. The Senior Executive Service, he wrote, is “10,000 Deep State shadow government employees who are sabotaging the American Republic for the globalist agenda.” Writing on social media, Corsi blasted the SES network, saying it is dominated by “hard-left Democrats” who are “Obama-Clinton holdovers.” Corsi also lambasted the Jimmy Carter-backed federal law that “prevents them from being fired.”

Former Navy SEAL Matthew Bracken, who has written five novels on defending fr ….. (continued)

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