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What is PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY? What does PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY mean? PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY meaning

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Published on Jul 11, 2017

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What is PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY? What does PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY mean? PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY meaning - PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY definition - PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY explanation.

Source: Wikipedia.org article, adapted under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/... license.

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Plausible deniability is the ability for persons (typically senior officials in a formal or informal chain of command) to deny knowledge of or responsibility for any damnable actions committed by others (usually subordinates in an organizational hierarchy) because of a lack of evidence that can confirm their participation, even if they were personally involved in or at least willfully ignorant of the actions. In the case that illegal or otherwise disreputable and unpopular activities become public, high-ranking officials may deny any awareness of such acts in order to insulate themselves and shift blame onto the agents who carried out the acts, as they are confident that their doubters will be unable to prove otherwise. The lack of evidence to the contrary ostensibly makes the denial plausible, that is, credible, although sometimes it merely makes it unactionable. The term typically implies forethought, such as intentionally setting up the conditions to plausibly avoid responsibility for one's (future) actions or knowledge. In some organizations, legal doctrines such as command responsibility exist to hold major parties responsible for the actions of subordinates involved in heinous acts and nullify any legal protection that their denial of involvement would carry.

In politics and espionage, deniability refers to the ability of a powerful player or intelligence agency to pass the buck and avoid blowback by secretly arranging for an action to be taken on their behalf by a third party ostensibly unconnected with the major player. In political campaigns, plausible deniability enables candidates to stay clean and denounce third-party advertisements that use unethical approaches or potentially libellous innuendo.

In the US, plausible deniability is also a legal concept. It refers to lack of evidence proving an allegation. Standards of proof vary in civil and criminal cases. In civil cases, the standard of proof is "preponderance of the evidence" whereas in a criminal matter, the standard is "beyond a reasonable doubt". If an opponent cannot provide evidence for his allegation, one can plausibly deny the allegation even though it may be true.

Although plausible deniability has existed throughout history, that name for it was coined by the CIA in the early 1960s to describe the withholding of information from senior officials in order to protect them from repercussions in the event that illegal or unpopular activities by the CIA became public knowledge. The roots of the name go back to Harry Truman's national security council paper 10/2 of June 18, 1948, which defined "covert operations" as "...all activities (except as noted herein) which are conducted or sponsored by this Government against hostile foreign states or groups or in support of friendly foreign states or groups but which are so planned and executed that any US Government responsibility for them is not evident to unauthorized persons and that if uncovered the US Government can plausibly disclaim any responsibility for them." During Eisenhower's administration, NSC 10/2 was incorporated into more specific NSC 5412/2 "Covert Operations." NSC 5412 was de-classified in 1977, and is located at the National Archives.

Arguably, the key concept of plausible deniability is plausibility. It is fairly easy for a government official to issue a blanket denial of an action, and it is possible to destroy or cover up evidence after the fact, and this might be sufficient to avoid a criminal prosecution, for instance. However, the public might well disbelieve the denial, particularly if there is strong circumstantial evidence, or if the action is believed to be so unlikely that the only logical explanation is that the denial is false.

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