Robert Gibbs (pictured), former press secretary for President Obama, said Sunday he was under orders during his White House years not to discuss or even acknowledge the existence of a "drone program," involving the use of remote-controlled, unmanned bombers, in the war on terror. The drones have become the subject of controversy, mainly because of their use in targeted killings of suspected terrorists, including American citizens.
Gibbs, who was the president's press secretary from January 2009 to February 2011, discussed the gag order on MSNBC's Up program after host Chris Hayes played a video clip showing Gibbs and current White House press secretary Jay Carney dodging reporters' questions about the drones. Whenever he heard such questions, he said, "I realized I'm not supposed to talk about it," describing each incident as a Wizard of Oz moment.
"Here's what's inherently crazy about that proposition," he said. "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."
Gibbs's revelation was not the first time the Obama administration's efforts at keeping the drone program a secret have been described in terms of a children's story. On January 2, Judge Colleen McMahon of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a summary judgment in favor of the U.S. Department of Justice, denying Freedom of Information requests by the New York Times and the American Civil Liberties Union for documents related to the government's use of drones for targeted killings. A year and a half after the Times had filed its request with the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, the OLC denied it, saying in a letter: "The very fact of the existence or nonexistence of such documents is itself classified." In her summary judgment, Judge McMahon wrote:
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