Former Press Secretary Offers PR Advice for Obama Drone Program

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by
Common Dreams

Former Press Secretary Offers PR Advice for Obama Drone Program

Robert Gibbs explains bizarre silence on program: 'Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain'

by
Jon Queally, staff writer

Former Obama press secretary (now an Obama press agent for MSNBC) Roberts Gibbs on Sunday told the Up with Chris Hayes audience that the White House had put a full gag order on even acknowledging the existence of the US drone program overseas.

“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,” said Gibbs on the Sunday morning show.

Describing one exchange in 2009 with journalist Major Garrett, then of Fox News, Gibbs said, “I would get a question like that and literally I couldn’t tell you what Major asked, because once I figured out it was about the drone program, I realize I’m not supposed to talk about it.”

Specifically, Gibbs made no mention of how the US public should "better understand" the death of five children and the wounding of five others in a US drone attack in Afghanistan two weeks ago.

Gibbs added: “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.”

Though recent events, specifically the CIA chief confirmation hearings for Obama's counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, have pried open the administration's position on the drone program by a crack, officials--including the current press secretary Jay Carney--continue their refusal to speak openly about the full extent of the program. And Obama refuses to release memos that detail the legal rationale behind the most controversial aspect of his drone program, the targeted assassination campaign.

Gibbs did not criticize the administration's drone policy, it should be noted, but only suggested that the level of secrecy has harmed the ability of the White House to "provide better understanding" to the US public.

Specifically, Gibbs made no mention of how the US public should "better understand" the death of five children and the wounding of five others in a US drone attack in Afghanistan two weeks ago.

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