"Nick, we're not going to respond to any of your questions" Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Falvo, the head of U.S. Africa Command's Public Affairs Branch, told me by phone last October. "We just don't feel that we need to."
I asked if Falvo believed AFRICOM didn't need to address questions from the press in general, or just me in particular.
"No, just you," he replied. "We don't consider you a legitimate journalist, really."
Then he hung up on me.
For the previous two months — after The Intercept revealed that Cameroonian troops tortured prisoners at a remote military base also used by U.S. personnel and private contractors for drone surveillance and training missions — AFRICOM had ignored my emails and phone calls. Finally, about a week and a half before Falvo's flare-up, spokesperson Robyn Mack answered a call of mine. I wanted to verify some public information and clarify a few points, and Mack asked for my questions. I had only just begun relaying the first of them when she interrupted me.