(NaturalNews) It doesn't happen often but every now and then a former government official has an attack of conscience - either that, or they are so arrogant as to believe no matter what they confess to, they're not going to be held responsible.
Robert Gibbs, the one-time White House Press Secretary for President Barack Obama, told reporters Feb. 24 he was ordered to keep the United States' active drone attack program under wraps.
"When I went through the process of becoming press secretary," he told MSNBC's "Up with Chris Hayes" program, "one of the first things they told me was, 'you're not even to acknowledge the drone program.'"
He added that he was told, "'you're not even to discuss that it exists.'"
'Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain'
Such a notion was "inherently crazy," Gibbs said.
"You're being asked a question based on reporting of a program that exists. So you're the government spokesperson acting as if the entire program - pay no attention to the man behind the curtain," Gibbs, who served as press secretary from the time of Obama's first inauguration in January 2009 to 2011, when Jay Carney took over.
The Obama administration, as has been well-documented, has been heavily criticized for inhibiting the release of information related to its overseas drone assassination program and has yet to officially even acknowledge that it exists, though there have been a number of public references to the program, along with the disclosure of an official Obama-controlled "kill list."
Despite all that, Gibbs says he expects much of the program to remain a secret, even though some in Congress are moving for more transparency.
"I have not talked to (the president) about this, so I want to be careful, but I think what the president has seen is, our denial of the existence of the program when it's obviously happening undermines people's confidence overall in the decisions that their government make," Gibbs said.
Despite remaining secretive about the program, Obama has expanded its scope dramatically since taking office. For example, the drone war, so to speak, has moved out of Iraq but has widened in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and has also spread to Yemen and Somalia.
And, as drone strikes have increased, so has collateral damage; the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found that at least 171 civilians, including 35 children, have been killed in Yemen by U.S. drone strikes over the past decade. Also, communiques released by WikiLeaks in 2010 revealed that the U.S. and Yemeni governments had repeatedly attempted to cover up the use of American warplanes against terrorist targets in the North African nation.
There is more evidence of the widening existence of the drone program. In mid-February, the Pentagon announced a new medal that could be awarded to drone operators though the decision by outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta angered some inside the Defense Department.
The ribbon is called the "Distinguished Warfare Medal," and it will be awarded to those accomplishing "extra achievement" related to military operations. Specifically; however, the award targets cyber and drone "warriors" who sit inside consoles in the United States and launch missile attacks delivered by unmanned aerial vehicles. It will become the fourth-highest combat decoration, above the Bronze Star.
Finally, despite "official" secrecy, the president has referred to his drone program many times in public, as have officials such as counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan.
Indeed, The New York Timesran a major story revealing that the Obama White House has asserted the authority to carry out state-sponsored assassination anywhere in the world, without having to go through any discovery or other legal processes, even against American citizens.
Clearly, despite Gibbs' admission, most Americans knew the administration has been running a drone program aimed at eliminating terrorist enemies, which is not necessarily a bad thing when placed in the context of protecting the country. So why not just fess up about it, Mr. President?