Last January, the Washington Post carried an interesting article by a person named Asha Rangappa, who is a former FBI agent. The article explored what would happen if a U.S. president became a threat to national security. She wrote her article in the context of suspicions that President Trump might be acting as a covert agent for Russia. She began her article as follows:
When President Trump fired then-FBI Director James B. Comey in 2017, the bureau opened a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump was secretly working on behalf of Russia. As a former FBI agent who conducted investigations against foreign intelligence services, I know that the bureau would have had to possess strong evidence that Trump posed a national security threat to meet the threshold for opening such an investigation."
Rangappa pointed out that the FBI has methods that address a suspected threat to national security within the federal bureaucracy, such as cutting off a person's access to secret information. But she observed, "Unfortunately, none of these are feasible options if the national security threat is the president of the United States."
She concludes that the only feasible option for a president who becomes a threat to national security is "exposure," followed by impeachment, conviction, and removal from office.
While Rangappa raises an important issue, unfortunately she fails to understand that under our system of government, there is another way to deal with a president who becomes a threat to national security. It isn't a method that is outlined in the Constitution. Nonetheless, owing to the governmental structure under which we live, it is a de facto means of dealing with any president, both foreign and domestic, who becomes a threat to national security.
Our country was founded on a type of governmental structure called a limited-government republic. While there was a relatively small army, there was no vast military establishment, CIA, NSA, and FBI. Governmental operations were for the most part transparent. For more than 150 years, there was no concept of "national security."
All that changed after World War II. The U.S. government was converted into a governmental structure known a "national-security state." It consists of a gigantic, permanent, powerful, and ever-growing military-intelligence establishment. America's national-security state is composed of the Pentagon, the vast military-industrial complex, the CIA, the NSA and, to a certain extent, the FBI.
A national-security state is a type of totalitarian governmental structure. North Korea is a national-security state. So is China. Egypt. Russia. And post-WW2 United States.
Why did U.S. officials convert the federal government to a national-security state? After World War II, they said that America now faced an enemy that was an even bigger threat than Nazi Germany. That enemy was the Soviet Union, which, ironically, had been America's wartime partner and ally.
U.S. officials maintained that there was an international communist conspiracy based in Moscow, Russia. The aim of the conspiracy, they said, was to take over the world, including the United States.
America's limited-government structure, they believed, was insufficient to prevent the communists from taking over America. To prevail in this new Cold War, it would be necessary, they believed, to have a governmental structure similar to that of communist regimes, one that could wield the same totalitarian-like powers wielded by communist regimes, including assassination.
The overriding principle of a national-security state is, needless to say, "national security." The idea is that anything can and should be done to eradicate threats to "national security," however that term is defined by the national-security establishment.