Former State Department Official: 'These Deep State Jerks Are Why I Retired'


Many of you read or heard about the “senior official” in the Trump administration who spoke out in an anonymous New York Times Op-Ed about how he and others “are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of [the president’s] agenda.” This attitude — that the personal policy preferences of unelected “officials” and employees are more important than the voters’ choices at the ballot box — is exactly why I retired.

Since retiring, many ordinary people have asked me whether the “deep state” exists or not, and I tell them yes, it does. It is small, but it is there and it is influential. Now, I and others like me who have been saying so are exonerated.

I reported to the State Department in early 2016 to work as a political-military affairs adviser on issues in South and East Asia. My previous experience working in an embassy abroad diminished the culture shock, but I found the willingness of career personnel — not political appointees, mind you, but permanent, officially “non-partisan” employees — at the department to openly express support for or opposition to partisan agendas and candidates somewhat disturbing.

As the election approached and I pondered the possibility of working for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, I did what the aforementioned partisan jerk should have done: I retired with the belief I could do more for Americans outside of government. Election day and subsequent events validated this belief.

On the day after the election, the State Department, or “Deep Blue” as I called it, was in mourning. Work had ground to a standstill and the only discussions were of the “How could this happen?” and “What can we do?” sort. I chuckled when I was told some offices in the Senate had called in therapy dogs — I received glares in return.

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Contacts in the Defense Department confirmed they were surprised as well, but unlike my State Department colleagues were uniformly and predictably circumspect in expressing their opinions.

Until Rex Tillerson was appointed, there was some talk about what State Department personnel could do to “stop the damage” Trump policies might inflict, but for the most part, the department continued to execute the policies and state the positions of the previous administration, as it should have. In Navy lingo, the State Department was “following the last order given.”

After Tillerson arrived, discussion of obstruction turned into actions to obstruct. Details were frequently kept from the secretary, and he would arrive at meetings with counterparts with an incomplete and often distorted picture of the issue being discussed. As I prepared to exit the State Department, it was clear what was going on — a direct attack on the people’s control of the government.

First and foremost, the agenda this official is resisting, characterized as “the president’s,” is not the president’s. He proposed it on the campaign trail and the people sent him to Washington to implement it. It is now the people’s agenda, not Trump’s.

Do you think think the deep state is out of control?

Second, every official and employee of the executive branch, including the sole elected official at the top, is there to execute the people’s agenda as expressed by elections and the laws and regulations implemented by, once again, elected officials.

Not a candidate’s agenda.

Not a party’s agenda.

And certainly not the agenda of a group of we-know-better-than-you careerists.

The people’s agenda.

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As for me, I took an extended break after 27 years of service, but am now back at this business of America from the outside. I volunteer for a congressional candidate, blog and write, and take every opportunity to help ordinary folks understand what the events of the day mean.

The behavior of these partisan snakes is nothing short of a criminal abuse of the lawful authority you gave them, barratry in admiralty law terms, and it cannot be tolerated. You must closely observe the steps your elected officials take to root out this insidious behavior. Nothing less than the control of your government — and your lives — is at stake.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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Chris van Avery is a Fellow and former Military Professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. He's also a former adviser to the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, a retired Navy Commander, and a past contributor to Proceedings, Armed Forces Journal, and Navy Times. He can be followed on Twitter @AngryRightMan.