IPS Fellow Lisa Hajjar:
The CIA operates armed drones to engage in targeted killing operations in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. That is known. But, to borrow from former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s iconic statement, is it a “known known” or a “known unknown”? Known knowns are things we know we know, whereas known unknowns are things we know we do not know. The third ingredient of Rumsfeld’s rhetorical mélange is the “unknown unknowns”—things we do not know we do not know. The CIA wishes its drone program was an unknown unknown. It strived for years to keep this public secret protected by offering “neither confirm nor deny” responses to journalists’ queries.