VIDEO: Former Press Sec. Robert Gibbs was told, "You’re not even to acknowledge the drone program. You’re not even to discuss that it exists."


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Former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, who is now an MSNBC contributor, was on Up with Chris Hayes talking drones and secrecy. He wasn't even allowed to acknowledge the existence of the drone program.


“I think you’ve seen recently the president discuss the need and desire to be more forthcoming..."

“When I went through the process of becoming press secretary, one of the first things they told me was, 'You’re not even to acknowledge the drone program. You’re not even to discuss that it exists...' So I would get a question like that and literally I couldn’t tell you what Major asked, because once I figured out it was about the drone program, I realize I’m not supposed to talk about it.

“But here’s what’s inherently crazy about that proposition: you’re being asked a question based on reporting of a program that exists. So you’re the official government spokesperson acting as if the entire program-- 'Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.'”

"... I have not talked to him about this, so I want to be careful, this is my opinion, but I think what the president has seen is, our denial of the existence of the program, when it’s obviously happening, undermines people’s confidence overall in the decisions that their government makes.”


The Obama administration has vastly stepped up the use of drones and targeted killings of suspected terrorists in countries like Pakistan and Yemen over the past four years, even targeting American citizens, a policy that has come under intense criticism from civil liberties advocates... The Obama administration has continued to withhold information about the program, including the secret memo prepared by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel to justify the program’s legality.

Finally, in 2012, counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan acknowledged the program’s existence.