CHARLOTTE—Top Obama aide Valerie Jarrett’s staff called the cops to kick me out of a media area last night when I questioned her about drone strikes.
As I sat up in the rafters listening to some Democratic National Convention speech — I don’t even particularly remember which one — Jarrett suddenly appeared to my right. She was being interviewed on camera by some television hack; I don’t even particularly know whom. So I rose from my seat and observed. There was an unnerving coldness about Jarrett’s demeanor — naturally, she laughed and smiled for the camera, bantering obligingly. But callousness underlain this guise of mainstream jocular propriety. I could see it in her eyes.
“Bye John,” she said, wrapping up the interview. I sprung into action.
“A lot of the president’s Democratic critics are very — ” I started.
“Excuse me, Sir. Sorry —” an aide of hers swooped in, attempting to intercept me. “Sir, excuse me. Sir!”
I spoke over the aide. “A lot of the president’s Democratic critics are very upset about the policy of drone strikes,” I stated — did Jarrett have any comment? She initially said nothing, while the aide continued to protest. “Sir, we need to get to another interview.” Then Jarrett broke her silence.
“If you would like to interview me, then Clo is right there — my Communications Officer. I suggest that —”
“Why can’t you comment right now, given that I’m already interacting with you?” I countered.
“I would suggest that you do just what Politico, and just what [inaudible] did, and ask for an interview. And we would be happy to accommodate you. I don’t think it makes sense —”
“So you have no comment on drone strikes?” I interjected. She started for the exit.
“Many Pakistanis are dying, ma’am,” I shouted. No response. By then Jarrett was out of reach.
“Do you have a card?” her aide, Clo Ewing — Director of Constituency Press for the Obama campaign — queried me angrily. (She did not reply to an emailed request for comment.)
Ewing looked intently at my credential, seemingly incredulous that I was entitled to be in her boss’s presence. Jarrett’s handlers, alarmed, then joined forces with Convention staff and summoned two uniformed police officers, who informed me I was to leave the area immediately — my duly-assigned credential notwithstanding. (In fairness, the officers themselves were friendly about this, and actually seemed rather befuddled.)
As I gathered my belongings, the guy who had been manning the TV camera whined at me: “Come on man, we’re trying to get people up here for interviews. What you did was not cool.”
“Fuck off,” I told him, and left.
Editor’s Note: Elsewhere in national security denialism, yesterday President Obama wouldn’t confirm or deny the existence of a presidential ‘kill list’ when asked by a reporter, despite his administration leaking knowledge of such a list to the New York Times.