By Mike Lofgren
There is the visible government situated around the Mall in Washington, and then there is another, more shadowy, more indefinable government that is not explained in Civics 101 or observable to tourists at the White House or the Capitol. The former is traditional Washington partisan politics: the tip of the iceberg that a public watching C-SPAN sees daily and which is theoretically controllable via elections. The subsurface part of the iceberg I shall call the Deep State, which operates on its own compass heading regardless of who is formally in power. 
During the last five years, the news media have been flooded with pundits decrying the broken politics of Washington. The conventional wisdom has it that partisan gridlock and dysfunction have become the new normal. That is certainly the case, and I have been among the harshest critics of this development. But it is also imperative to acknowledge the limits of this critique as it applies to the American governmental system. On one level, the critique is self-evident: in the domain that the public can see, Congress is hopelessly deadlocked in the worst manner since the 1850s, the violently rancorous decade preceding the Civil War.
Edward Snowden is in fear for his life. He should be.
The NSA leaker had been holed up in Hong Kong but checked out of his room Monday shortly after going public, and has not been heard from since. He told Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman that the U.S. intelligence community “will most certainly kill you if they think you are the single point of failure that could stop this disclosure and make them the sole owner of this information.”
“I did not believe that literally,” Gellman wrote, “but I knew he had reason to fear.” But why not believe it? Wouldn’t someone with Snowden’s background know what he was talking about? What does Gellman think happens in the world of secret intelligence? It is called the “dark side” for a reason.
President Obama is no stranger to killing in the national interest. He has conducted more known or suspected assassinations than any president ever. The White House claims the president has the power to order the death of an American abroad, like Snowden, but Mr. Obama’s lawyers refuse to explain how or why this is constitutional. They simply say “trust us,” which these days is not their strongest argument. But they know the issue will not be tested in court because the only people with standing to sue are dead before they get the chance.