bustedA federal appeals court has rejected an effort by the CIA to deny it has any documents about a U.S. drone program that has killed terrorists overseas, ruling that the agency is stretching the law too far and asking judges “to give their imprimatur to a fiction of deniability that no reasonable person would regard as plausible.”

The ruling by a three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit cites several public speeches by prominent American officials about the U.S. use of weaponized drones, including a 2009 talk by then-CIA director Leon Panetta, a Google+ web chat by President Obama last year and a 2012 speech by the president’s new CIA chief, John Brennan.

The case began with a Freedom of Information Act request by the American Civil Liberties Union nearly three years ago. It asked for 10 categories of information regarding drones. That request was flatly denied by CIA officials, who argued that confirming the existence of such records could in effect be revealing classified information.

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