plausible deniability

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plausible deniability (uncountable)

  1. (politics, business, military, espionage) The organization of clandestine activity in such a way that knowledge of its existence may be denied by those in authority.
    • 1987 July 16, Meyer Rangell, "Letters: Deniable Plausibility?," New York Times (retrieved 8 June 2015):
      Lieut. Col. Oliver L. North may have added a memorable phrase to the lexicon of political obfuscation at the Iran-contra hearings when he referred to his concern for "plausible deniability" as he carried out his covert activities.
    • 2001 June 24, Douglas C. Waller, "The Americans Left Behind," Time (retrieved 8 June 2015):
      Americans would stand out in the Laotian jungle, and Washington needed to retain plausible deniability. CIA officials demanded that Laotians on their payroll carry out the mission.
    • 2014 Oct. 8, Davia Temin, "The Role Of Boards In Crisis," Forbes (retrieved 8 June 2015):
      No longer is plausible deniability acceptable, either for boards or for management. Corporate and nonprofit boards alike are expected to know of problems that are brewing deep within their organizations.