Although the Obama administration has been a bit more forthcoming lately in its admission of its policy of using drones to kill enemies by remote control, there is still an official reluctance to let too much information reach the public.
In the last year or so, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and a group of reporters have filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) petitions requesting that the federal government provide greater access to operational details of the drone program and the legal arguments forwarded by the Obama administration in justifying not only the use of the drones, but their use in the killing of thousands in Pakistan alone.
The first round of these FOIA requests was answered with a Glomar response. As I have written previously, in such a maneuver, the agency that is the subject of the FOIA inquiry “neither confirms nor denies” the existence of the material requested.
Named for a ship built by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to covertly recover a sunken Soviet submarine, a Glomar response typically is given in two scenarios.
First, where a refusal to forward the documents would have the effect of admitting that they actually exist, thus compromising national security.
Second, law enforcement agencies will give a Glomar response when producing the requested information would stigmatize a person named in the documents being sought.
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Photo: An MQ-9 Reaper drone aircraft