‘Earpiece envy’: White House colleagues skeptical about why Valerie Jarrett has detail

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Alex Pappas
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      Alex Pappas

      Alex Pappas is a Washington D.C.-based political reporter for The Daily Caller. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and the Mobile Press-Register. Pappas is a graduate of The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he was editor-in-chief of The Sewanee Purple. While in college, he did internships at NBC's Meet the Press and the White House. He grew up in Mobile, Ala., where he graduated from St. Paul's Episcopal School. He and his wife live on Capitol Hill.

Why does President Barack Obama’s senior adviser Valerie Jarrett have Secret Service protection?

It turns out that some of her colleagues inside the White House are skeptical that actual, specific threats resulted in Jarrett’s protection.

“While a high-profile White House official — especially an African-American woman, such as Jarrett — could legitimately be considered a more likely target than most, several West Wing officials I spoke to were dubious there had been any special threats against her,” writer Mark Leibovich reported in “This Town,” a new book on Washington.

Added Leibovich of Jarrett’s White House colleagues: “They suspected, rather, that Jarrett asked the president to authorize a detail out of ‘earpiece envy.’”

The Daily Caller reported in 2010 that in a largely unprecedented move, Jarrett and David Axelrod, another senior adviser who has since left the White House, were being driven to work by government drivers and that Jarrett had been made a “protectee” of the Secret Service.

Jarrett has refused to discuss why she has been assigned Secret Service when questioned by reporters.

In April 2012, The Daily Caller filed a Freedom of Information Act request for details from the Department of Homeland Security about the cost of Jarrett’s protection. That request has not yet been fulfilled.

Leibovich reported that Jarrett finds questions about the rationale for her protection “ridiculous and offensive.” The adviser declined to speak about the arrangement with him.

“She has maintained that the decision was not hers, and that being accompanied by agents is more of an intrusion that a perk,” he writes.

The author also disclosed that Axelrod was given protection after the gunman in June 2009 shooting of a security guard at the Holocaust Museum in Washington was carrying information about the aide.

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