Former Obama Spox Robert Gibbs: I Was Told Not To Acknowledge Existence Of Drone Program

As press secretary to President Obama, Robert Gibbs was often in the obfuscation business.  Now that he's been freed from that role and become a news analyst—albeit at MSNBC—Gibbs has become considerably more candid. Readers will recall, for example, that he described Chuck Hagel as "unimpressive and unprepared" at his Senate confirmation hearing.

Today, Gibbs took that frankness a significant step further.  On Up With Chris Hayes, Gibbs stated that as press secretary, he had been ordered not to acknowledge the existence of the drone program. View the video after the jump.

Watch Gibbs make his surprising admission.  Questions: just who was it who ordered Gibbs not to admit the existence of the drone program? Did President Obama order the instruction to be given?  What else has the Obama administration been hiding from the American people?

CHRIS HAYES: On this issue, particularly on national security issues, I feel like there really has been a transparency problem. I want to just show a little bit of montage of the White House responding to questions about, say, the drone program over the years.

. . .

MAJOR GARRETT: The New York Times reports that Vice-President Biden in these sessions talking about the way forward has pressed specifically for a strategy that elevates the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, drones, and de-emphasizes U.S. Combat forces on the ground. Can you tell us if that's true?

ROBERT GIBBS: I think you can understand why I'm not going to get into internal discussions.

GARRETT:  You can't say one way or the other whether that's true or not?

GIBBS: I'm not going to get into it.


HAYES: Do you think that you've been sufficiently forthcoming and the White House has been sufficiently forthcoming on this stuff?

GIBBS: I think you've seen recently the President discuss the need and desire to be more forth come. I certainly think there are aspects of that program that are and will remain highly sensitive and very secret, but let me give you an example here, Chris. 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. And so I would get a question like that and literally I couldn't tell you what Major asks because once I figured out it was about the drone program i realized I'm not supposed to talk about it. 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.

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.