A writer for The American Conservative said top White House adviser Valerie Jarrett “threw” him out of the Democratic National Convention for asking about President Barack Obama’s drone strike policy.
Michael Tracey said he approached Jarrett as she finished an on-camera interview Tuesday night and attempted to get a question in about those who are upset about Obama’s use of drones to target and kill suspected militants:
“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?
Tracey said Jarrett initially said nothing as the aide tried to shoo him away, but then directed him to her communications officer to set up an interview.
“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.)
At that point, Tracey said, Ewing examined his media pass and then “summoned two uniformed police officers, who informed me I was to leave the area immediately — my duly-assigned credential notwithstanding.”
In a rare interview about his drone policy broadcast Wednesday on CNN, Obama described the “extensive” decision-making process as one with “a lot of checks, a lot of eyes looking at it.”
“Drones are one tool that we use, and our criteria for using them is very tight and very strict,” he told CNN. “It has to be a target that is authorized by our laws; it has to be a threat that is serious and not speculative; it has to be a situation in which we can’t capture the individual before they move forward on some sort of operational plot against the United States…our preference is always to capture if we can because you can gather intelligence.”
Additionally, Obama said, “we are very careful about avoiding civilian casualties.”