Whoever recommended the Radiolab podcast, THANK YOU!
In one episode, we learn the term "We can neither confirm nor deny" came from Project Azorian.
In 1968, the Soviets lost a submarine 3,000 miles northwest of Hawaii. The US wanted to retrieve it from the ocean floor for intelligence purposes. Not only did the sub contain codes, but nuclear weapons as well. The US contacted Howard Hughes and asked his company to pretend to be interested in mining for manganese on the ocean floor. They used that as a cover to secretly recover the sub. "We can neither confirm nor deny" was first used during this project when journalists asked about the project's existence.
The full story is here.