CIA and U.S. government still neither affirm or deny existence of drone program
Even though everyone knows that there are drone attacks by the CIA in Pakistan and Yemen among other locations targeting suspected terrorists the official position of the CIA is that they neither confirm or deny it. Obama has bragged about killing terrorist leaders in Pakistan and Yemen. Panetta has defended the program and called it successful. Yet the official CIA line does not even admit the program exists.
Given that everyone knows the program exists and the president and national defense chief have specifically talked about the program it seems a bit asinine to deny that it exists. However the CIA position has a purpose and that is to keep any details hidden from the public while U.S. officials reveal whatever aspects of the program they think will be politically advantageous to them.
The ACLU has been for some time trying to obtain information on the drone program through the Freedom of Information Act. There will be a hearing on the matter on Sept. 20. Twenty six members of the U.S. Congress have asked Obama to consider the consequences of the program and explain its necessity. However, the ACLU has been trying to get information from 2010. The ACLU asked to see the legal basis for the attacks, restrictions on those targeted, civilian casualties, geographic limits to attacks, and the number of attacks carried out and other features of the program.
A federal judge sided with the CIA ruling that to confirm or deny the existence of the program and records would expose national security secrets. So there you have it. Even to admit the existence of the program would expose national security secrets. However Obama can reveal anything about the program that he finds useful politically and Leon Panetta can do likewise. This is what is known as accountability. For more see this article.