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Deep Rot in the Deep State

Just a month before he passed away in 1994, Richard Nixon penned a letter to President Bill Clinton in which he offered his views on the foreign policy challenges currently facing the Commander-in-Chief.  President Nixon opened his letter by acknowledging that he had declined to run its contents through the proper “State Department channels,” stating that in his experience, the career officials at the State Department were “seldom ignorant, but almost always arrogant.”  In the wake of the worst antisemitic attacks since the Holocaust on October 7th, hundreds of career employees at the State Department and across the rest of our government agencies have proven to be both ignorant and arrogant – in their obsessive compulsion to deny Israel’s right to exist and in their pathological desire to validate Palestinian terror.  This deep rot in our government agencies threatens America’s national security, puts our partners and allies in peril, and undermines our constitutional order.

This week, 500 Biden political appointees and staff members from 40 government agencies put the Deep State on full display when they signed a letter publicly protesting the Administration’s support for Israel and demanded that the Biden Administration support an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.  It is the latest of several protest letters from officials across the federal bureaucracy, including last week’s leak of Dissent Cable memos circulating within the State Department and an open letter signed by more than 1,000 employees of the U.S. Agency for International Development.  In each case, officials – both career staffers and the Administration’s own political appointees – clearly wished to put pressure on the Administration to stop supporting Israel by making their frustrations public.  No longer satisfied to stymie policy they disagree with from the shadows, they are now acting in public and with impunity.

We should be clear: This is not the normal exercise of free speech, something to which every American has a right.  This is the purposeful undermining of elected leaders by unelected bureaucrats.  It is something that should concern every American.

These dissenting staff fundamentally misunderstand their role and authority.  Individuals who serve our country in any government institution, whether in the military, the State Department, or otherwise, swear allegiance to the United States and should commit to the mission of the President – elected by the American people – and his or her Administration.  If they are unable or refuse to do so, they should seek another line of work or face termination.  Instead of honoring their oath to the Constitution and doing right by their country, these staffers feel they have a right to undermine our elected leaders and attack America’s most important ally in the Middle East.

Not a single American voted for these individuals or endorsed their personal views on foreign policy. Their job is to serve their agency as it executes the elected President’s policy objectives.  To do otherwise is not just inappropriate; it is deeply at odds with our constitutional order and subverts the will of the American people.

To make matters worse, these staff are also dead wrong. Their moral compass is broken; it is absolutely right for America to back Israel in its war against the barbaric Hamas terrorists who committed the worst massacre against Jews since the Holocaust. Supporting Israel right now isn’t about politics. It’s about enabling the triumph of good over true evil.  Any staffer who fails to recognize this does not deserve the honor of serving the American people at the State Department or any other government agency.

As Secretary of State, I dealt with a constant stream of leaks and attempts to undermine our mission from career officers who swore an oath to serve our country and its Constitution.  It is truly shocking how deep the rot goes.  In most cases, career officials who had cozied up to Democrat officials in the Obama years simply burrowed deeper during our Administration’s tenure, only to pop back up once the same political appointees returned in the Biden Administration – all while doing everything they could to sabotage our efforts to execute the foreign policy goals the American people had elected the President to deliver.

The fact that these same career officials are now undermining the Biden Administration’s efforts makes clear that this isn’t even about politics: It is about power and control.  The minute an Administration – be it Democrat or Republican – deviates from what the permanent bureaucracy demands, a power struggle ensues.  When I was Secretary of State, we didn’t give in to these efforts.  I hope (but am not optimistic) the Biden Administration will show the same fortitude.

The American people should be alarmed and outraged that individuals who are so clearly opposed to our constitutional order – and so plainly ignorant of right and wrong – work on U.S. foreign policy every day.  The next Administration should not just try to manage the problems presented by the bloated, broken bureaucracies that fill our Executive Branch – it should cut them down to size, remove individuals who refuse to comply with what our Constitution says, and return power over them to the individual elected by the American people to lead the country.

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