October 13, 2019

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL: Whistleblowers And The Real Deep State.

The “deep state”—if we are to use the term—is better defined as consisting of career civil servants, who have growing power in the administrative state but work in the shadows. As government grows, so do the challenges of supervising a bureaucracy swelling in both size and power. Emboldened by employment rules that make it all but impossible to fire career employees, this internal civil “resistance” has proved willing to take ever more outrageous actions against the president and his policies, using the tools of both traditional and social media.

Government-employed resisters received a call to action within weeks of the new administration. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates became acting attorney general on Mr. Trump’s inauguration and Loretta Lynch’s resignation. A week later, the president signed an executive order restricting travel from seven Middle Eastern and African countries. Ms. Yates instructed Justice Department lawyers not to defend the order in court on the grounds that she was not convinced it was “consistent” with the department’s “responsibilities” or even “lawful.” She decreed: “For as long as I am Acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the Executive Order.”

Mr. Trump fired her that day, but he shouldn’t have had to. Her obligation was to defend the executive order, or to resign if she felt she couldn’t. Nobody elected Sally Yates.

The Yates memo was the first official act of the internal resistance—not only a precedent but a rallying cry. Subordinates fawningly praised her in emails obtained by Judicial Watch. “You are my new hero,” wrote one federal prosecutor. Another department colleague emailed: “Thank you AG Yates. I’ve been in civil/appellate for 30 years and have never seen an administration with such contempt for democratic values and the rule of law.” Andrew Weissmann—a career department lawyer, then head of the Criminal Fraud Division and later on the staff of special counsel Robert Mueller—wrote: “I am so proud. And in awe. Thank you so much.” Ms. Yates set an example to rebels throughout the government: If she can defy the president, why can’t I?

That mentality fed the stream of leaks that has flowed ever since.

The civil service laws aren’t working. Time to return to the spoils system, where “bureaucratic diffusion of responsibility” was less of a thing.

InstaPundit is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.