Policy & Law
The Obama Administration hasn't just downplayed drone strikes — according to former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, it directed him to avoid mentioning the program altogether. "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,'" Gibbs told MSNBC's Chris Hayes. Gibbs went on to call the decision "inherently crazy," saying that "you're being asked a question based on reporting of a program that exists."
The White House's policy isn't all that surprising, but we've seen at least a few changes since then. When Obama officially confirmed the drone program's existence in late 2012, press secretary Jay Carney refused to even say the word "drone" in a briefing. But after leaked documents on targeted killings surfaced in early February, he directly defended the strikes, which he called "legal, ethical, and wise." Not long afterwards, though, President Barack Obama gave somewhat vague answers on the program's oversight, saying in a Google+ Hangout that "we have a whole bunch of safeguards in terms of how we conduct counterterrorism operations outside of the United States."