Former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Sunday admitted that he had been instructed during his time in the Obama administration to not acknowledge the existence of its secretive drone program.
Needless to say, Gibbs’ admission struck some as rather odd (troubling), including MSNBC host Rachel Maddow.
“Why were you told that you can’t acknowledge the existence of the [drone] program?” she asked Gibbs, who is now a paid MSNBC contributor, on Monday.
Gibbs avoided directly answering her question and preferred instead to fall back on excuses involving the term “highly classified.”
“Well, part of this program is highly classified, highly top secret and quite frankly, this program has existed for many years and very few, if any have ever publicly acknowledged that,” he said.
He added that it was CIA director nominee John Brennan who loosened the restrictions on the the media blackout.
“He understood there was that inherent unsustainable tension, and that some transparency absolutely had to take place,” said Gibbs.
Gibbs continued, arguing for all the good drone strikes have done for us.
“I will say this, the drone program has saved lives in this country. It has saved a lot of lives in our military. It's a program that has done great damage to al Qaeda, and that's a very, very good thing,” he said.
But Maddow didn’t want to talk about that. She wanted to talk about the White House’s secrecy
“I don’t think that is the controversial part of it,” she said.
The problem, she continued, is that “we seem to be waging war with part of our country that isn’t designed to be accountable to us as civilians for war-making,” adding “I understand the argument for why missions have to be secret, why operations have to be secret. I don’t understand why law has to be secret.”
Gibbs assured her that we “will begin to see” the CIA and the White House “lift the veil” on the secretive drone program. But that’s all he would say.
“That president always has to be accountable to the people,” he added.
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(H/T: Mediaite). Featured image Getty Images.