Skip to main content

Robert Gibbs, former White House Press Secretary, revealed the drone program on this weekend's Up with Chris Hayes. This is outrageous on a number of levels, not the least of which is that the Obama administration has steadfastly withheld information about the program--including the 7 Justice Department memos justifying it.

Gibbs said he was told:

You're not even to acknowledge the drone program. You're not even to discuss that it exists.
The ACLU has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, which asked the government to disclose the legal basis for its use of predator drones to conduct "targeted killings" overseas. The CIA denied the request by refusing to confirm or deny whether the CIA drone strike program even exists. (I received a similar GLOMAR response to my FOIA).

Yet Gibbs, now with a new gig at MSNBC, felt he had to explain how uncomfortable it felt to lie to the American public, and in doing so, officially revealed one of the most closely-held secrets of the Obama administration.

With respect to Gibbs, I doubt we are going to hear Neil MacBride (the U.S. attorney in the case of CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou), smugly chastising that,

Leaks of highly sensitive, closely held and classified information compromise national security and can put individual lives in danger.
Nor will we hear sanctimonious David Petraeus lecturing that
There are indeed consequences for those who believe they are above the laws that . . . enable American intelligence agencies to operate with the requisite degree of secrecy.

Gibbs noted the absurdity of the White House's edict:

Here's what's inherently crazy about the 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.
I sympathize with how awkward it must have been for Gibbs to constantly have to dodge the elephant in the room. But what I find more infuriating than the White House's orchestrated lying by omission is that 1) groups that have spent years going through formal legal processes could not get the relevant memos, and 2) I have a client, John Kiriakou, who is going to jail on Thursday for "leaking" the name of a CIA torturer, which can be found via a simple Google search.

I have represented a number of whistleblowers, including Thomas Drake and John Kiriakou, who have been prosecuted under the Espionage Act for allegedly mishandling allegedly classified information. Neither they (nor, theoretically, Gibbs) should be charged under this notoriously ambiguous, draconian, antiquated law that is meant to go after spies, not whistleblowers.

"Leak hypocrisy"--the government leaking like a sieve when it's in their interest, and prosecuting those who embarrass it or, God forbid, expose its crimes) enjoyed a brief glimpse of sunshine a few months ago, but died quietly.  The war on whistleblowers, however, has continued unabated.  The naysayers always claim:

It's not up to some single individual to unilaterally decide what can be public or not.
But that's exactly what Gibbs did. I doubt, however, that we will hear David Petraeus lecturing that
There are consequences for those who believe they are above the laws that . . . enable American intelligence agencies to operate with the requisite degree of secrecy.
And Gibbs' public-right-to-know explanation sounds a lot like what a lot of whistleblowers have said:
This is my opinion, but . . . our denial of the existence of the program when it's obviously happening undermines people's confidence in the overall decisions that their government makes. . . In order to bolster that . . . you do have to lift the veil some.
As I accompany John Kiriakou to jail on Thursday, he will become the only CIA officer connected to the torture program (one of the worst scandals of my generation) to go to prison--and he was the one who blew the whistle on the torture program, called waterboarding torture, and refused torture training. In another bitter irony, if Kiriakou had actually tortured someone, he would not be going to jail.
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site