Former Canadian ambassador and UC professor Peter Dale Scott has studied and reported on the "deep state" for a least 50 years. The concept of a Deep State ("shadow government", etc.) is one which functions outside of the purview of the public. This is an essential component of the US contemporary capitalist class rule which originally came to power in 1776 proclaiming democratic themes as a way to enlist the help of the working class against the British aristocracy and monarchy.
Thus after achieving class power, they were saddled with this democratic ideology ("government of the people, by the people, and for the people") and have had to deal with it ever since. The main way was to secure their power of money and property from any interference from government. In the US the first step was to replace the Articles of Confederation which permitted far too much democracy with the US Constitution which gave the embryonic capitalist class much more direct control. Since then this new ruling class used indoctrination as an essential way to insure that people growing up would be thoroughly immersed in capitalist values. In the 20th century this class secured control of most information that reached the public by increasing their ownership of media under giant media corporations.
Following WWII the US capitalist class embarked on a project of world domination and thus had to establish more insidious methods of parallel private networks of authority to function whenever public opposition and government posed problems for their interests. The Deep State, as used by Scott, is a term applied to the latter form of power and it essentially applies to the Continuity of Government project whenever the rule of major capitalists is threatened.
There is the settled condition of the deep state and then there is this moving force that has been instituting change, particularly since 9/11 but as far back as Iran-Contra, and that is things which are done under the cover of Continuity of Government planning, COG planning. This is what Oliver North was doing in the mid-1980s when he was asked, very astutely, if he was planning for suspension of the US Constitution. And the answer was – he didn’t get to speak the answer. A gavel came down from the chairman – the Democratic chairman, I may say – that we couldn’t go into this in a public session. But yes, he was planning for the suspension of the Constitution and I can name three ways in which I think it has been since suspended.
This is where I part company with Scott who very specifically and narrowly focuses on this project. My concept of a Deep State is much broader. It is an informal, class-based network of major capitalists and encompasses all the levers of power from powerful think tanks such as Council on Foreign Relations, Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Trilateral Commission, Rand, Ford Foundation, etc, and the Federal Reserve to their more operational organizations such as the CIA, NSA, etc, National Security Council, CIA infiltrated media corporations, etc. None of the participants in these organizations are voted into membership by the people. Their influence on what the government does is rarely covered in corporate media. How this complex of organizations mediate and operationalize their decisions remains a mystery.