As the indemnification vote showed, the Deep State does not consist only of government agencies. What is euphemistically called “private enterprise” is an integral part of its operations. In a special series in The Washington Post called “ Top Secret America ,” Dana Priest and William K. Arkin described the scope of the privatized Deep State and the degree to which it has metastasized after the September 11 attacks. There are now 854,000 contract personnel with top-secret clearances — a number greater than that of top-secret-cleared civilian employees of the government. While they work throughout the country and the world, their heavy concentration in and around the Washington suburbs is unmistakable: Since 9/11, 33 facilities for top-secret intelligence have been built or are under construction. Combined, they occupy the floor space of almost three Pentagons — about 17 million square feet. Seventy percent of the intelligence community’s budget goes to paying contracts. And the membrane between government and industry is highly permeable: The Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper , is a former executive of Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the government’s largest intelligence contractors. His predecessor as director, Admiral Mike McConnell , is the current vice chairman of the same company; Booz Allen is 99 percent dependent on government business. These contractors now set the political and social tone of Washington, just as they are increasingly setting the direction of the country, but they are doing it quietly, their doings unrecorded in the Congressional Record or the Federal Register , and are rarely subject to congressional hearings.
Conventional wisdom is slow to move, and there’s significant lag time between when something becomes reality and when conventional wisdom is revised to reflect that reality. And by the time it does, reality has moved on to something else. But chefs don’t pay attention to that, reasoning instead using their eyes and ears and experience. By ignoring conventional wisdom in favor of simply looking at the present for what it really is and staying up-to-date with the facts of the world as they change in real-time—in spite of what conventional wisdom has to say—the chef can act on information the rest of us haven’t been given permission to act on yet.