Former Press Secretary: Obama Admin. Tried to Conceal Drone Strikes on Americans
February 25, 2013 2:01 PM
Top White House official comes clean about covert drone strikes
In recent weeks, controversy has been boiling over the targeted
killings of American citizens with drones
. While most would agree that Americans who join hostile overseas terrorist groups like al Qaeda may be difficult to capture and may necessitate strikes with deadly force, most also take issue with the way the administration handled the information.
At a time when drones are
deployed over U.S. airspace
to "monitor the homeland" and discussions of arming such drones are ongoing, the issue is a sensitive one for Americans who fear what could happen under a system with such a lack of transparency.
I. Down the Rabbit Hole
Robert Gibbs, a former White House press secretary who recently joined MSNBC -- a network owned by Microsoft Corp. (
), Comcast Corp. (
) and General Electric Comp. (
) -- gave an exclusive interview with his new employer on the politics talk segment "Up".
In the interview clips are played in which he and the new press secretary -- Jay Carney -- are shown dodging questions about targeted drone killings. In the interview, he confirms, "When I went through the process of becoming press secretary, one of the things, 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.'"
When reporters started asking questions about drones, Mr. Gibbs recalls, "I realized I'm not supposed to talk about it."
The case is drawing fictional comparisons, such as "The Wizard of Oz" (in which a normal man hides behind an animated curtain to hide his lack of magic powers) or "Alice in Wonderland" (due to questions of how many layers of obfuscation are wrapping the reality of the covert actions -- i.e. how far down the rabbit hole, we must go to find the truth).
Reaper drones are currently being used over U.S. airspace. [Image Source: The Real Revo]
Mr. Gibbs used
The Wizard of Oz
analogy in his own interview. The former official, who says he never talked to President Obama about the issue, complains that "when [drone strikes on Americans are] obviously happening, undermines people’s confidence overall in the decisions that their government makes."
II. Drone Medal Awarded, Brennan Nomination Jeopardized
The White House has
finally agreed to release some documents
to the Senate and House, but much about the reportedly highly codified death strikes program is unknown. Reportedly the only people with fully details are the Obama administration and high ranking military and intelligence officials.
President Obama says sometimes U.S. citizens must be killed, although it may be too sensitive to say when that time is. [Image Source: AFP/Getty Images]
use of drones overseas
exploded in recent years
. The autonomous
offer a way to project U.S. hegemony without risking the lives of servicemen. Reportedly
one in three U.S. warplanes
is today a drone.
The Pentagon recently
announced a new medal of honor
-- the Distinguished Warfare Medal -- for drone operators and cyberwarfare experts. The medal ranks above the prestigious Purple Heart (which is awarded to servicemen wounded or killed in battle), raising criticism. Critics dub the award "the Geek's Cross".
The controversy over drone killings of American citizens and the secrecy surrounding the administrations' rules on the topic has impacted the nomination of John Brennan to become director of the
U.S. Central Intelligence Agency
John Brennan helped mastermind the drone killings. [Image Source: Reuters]
John Brennan has also been criticized for supporting "enhanced interrogation" (torture), warrantless wiretaps, and the Iraq invasion/war. Much of these policies were his work during his time with the previous Bush Administration.
on these issues.
Sen. Rand Paul
(R-Tenn.) says the strikes raise serious Constitutional issues, due to the administration's secrecy and ambiguous language. He says unless he gets answers he plans to do "whatever it takes" to block Mr. Brennan's nomination.
That in turn, could create chaos in U.S. intelligence ranks and compromise America's ability to monitor enemies and defend itself overseas.
"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan
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