May 24th, 2013
12:05 PM ET
2 years ago

Obama heckler: 'Don't call it heckling'

Washington (CNN) - She repeatedly interrupted President Barack Obama by screaming during his national security speech Thursday, but don't call her a "heckler."

"I don't call it heckling, I call it speaking out because the president is not implementing policies that we need to see changed," Code Pink Founder Medea Benjamin said on CNN's "Newsroom" Friday.


Benjamin disrupted the president multiple times, before she was escorted from the room, to express dissatisfaction with the administration's drones policy and its failure to close the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She was so insistent that the president addressed her multiple times from the podium, while speaking at the National Defense University. He repeatedly asked her to let him finish, but also said he was "willing to cut the young lady who interrupted me some slack because it's worth being passionate about."

Benjamin said she interjected when she did because she "didn't hear what many of us thought we were going to hear" and defended her attendance. She said she received an invitation for the event and therefore should not be considered a heckler.

Benjamin, who co-founded the progressive group Code Pink, is a regular at rallies and events protesting the use of armed drones to target terrorists and the existence of Gitmo, which Obama pledged to close when he was elected president.

Obama reiterated that call for closure during his speech Thursday and elaborated on his criteria for the use of drones, which have increased significantly during his presidency.

But Benjamin is not yet satisfied.

"The time for words is over. It's time for action," she said. "He is the commander-in-chief. He can do this on his own."


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (86 Responses)
  1. Marie MD

    Hey Medea,you want to scream at somebody worthy of your ranting?
    Go shout at the tea trolls and repugs in congress. They are the ones standing, big surprise, in the way of moving these detainees from Gigmo to federal max facilities in the US.
    If you are going to embarrass yourself at least pick the right group!

    May 24, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    "willing to cut the young lady who interrupted me some slack because it's worth being passionate about."
    ----------------------------------------------
    We should respect her passion. At the same time, she should respect the President and let him get his point across. It's not like the President doesn't want to shut Gitmo down. If she has a gripe with someone, look no further than Congress Ms. Congress. It would be nice if the President can just wave a wand and Gitmo is closed, but it's not that simple.

    May 24, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Correction: If she has a gripe with someone, look no further than Congress Ms. Benjamin.

    May 24, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    ""He is the commander-in-chief. He can do this on his own.""

    Nope. He can't. That line of thinking is as silly as claiming he could've forced single-payer through Congress. It's also as ridiculous as claiming things like "we should get rid of the Dept. of Education" and "voter fraud is a pervasive problem that Voter IDs will fix." Of course, where they differ is that the former will be appropriately painted by the MSM as the craziness it is, while the latter will be given a free pass, broadcast incessantly and treated as legitimate and worthy of academic debate. IOKIYAR

    May 24, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  5. Howard's Daddy

    It is unfortunate that she is not correct about the CIC having to power to do things on his own. The blight and economic sinkhole called Gitmo would have been closed already.

    May 24, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  6. Fair is Fair

    Not a big fan of Code Pink... but at least they're consistent. Consistently wrong, but consistent nonetheless.

    May 24, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  7. Hard Corps

    What a fine mess GW got us into

    May 24, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  8. Gurgyl

    GOP put in big mess for the last forty years.

    May 24, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  9. Data Driven

    "He can do this on his own."

    Maybe he can, and maybe he can't. It's an interesting question. I think what needs to be considered (and, Sniffit, you're probably the person to do it) is: does the disposition of these detainees fall in the bailiwick of the Legislative, or the Executive? What does precedent demonstrate? What does the Constitution say? I confess to not knowing. I do know that Presidents have been pretty untrammelled over the past century in the arena of foreign affairs. Does this COUNT as "foreign affairs", though?

    We better figure it out, because this situation is otherwise intolerable. I've read elsewhere that the possibility of civil trials for the detainees has been ruined by previous military tribunals, but that also seems debatable. What are we going to do with these people? What CAN we do?

    Look, I've given up on the GOPhers doing the right thing. I do expect more from Obama. More than the occasional plaintive suggestion in an occasional speech. How about a concerted effort to resolve the issue? Maybe that's occurred behind the scenes. But after a while, a doleful shrug of the shoulders while pointing to the other side if the aisle starts to look like an excuse. Perhaps I'm wrong. Just staking out the left-liberal position on this one.

    May 24, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  10. smith

    Code Pink is funded by George Soros and answers to Jimmy Carter. She is a plant. The dems had complete contol of congress in Obama`s first 2 years. GOP had nothing to do with with blocking the closure of Gitmo

    May 24, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  11. Marty

    THIS IS A SECURITY BREECH! A person who wasn't supposed to be there, got in. Like that couple that crashed that party at the White House, no real harm was done. However, the Secret Service somehow needs to revamp security procedures.
    Next time it might be a Squeaky Fromme (whom this woman reminds me of in looks and shrill voice) that gets in. Not so cute then, is it?

    May 24, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "She said she received an invitation for the event and therefore should not be considered a heckler. "

    Note to Moonbat: You were invited to a speech, not a roundtable discussion.

    May 24, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  13. California Gary

    Sorry lady.....but if you don't want to be called a heckler, then don't heckle.

    May 24, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    @smith

    Code Pink is funded by George Soros and answers to Jimmy Carter. She is a plant. The dems had complete contol of congress in Obama`s first 2 years. GOP had nothing to do with with blocking the closure of Gitmo
    ========================
    You're watching Fox News again... Republicans were promising to block all funding for transfer of prisoners or alternative facilities even before they took control of the House. Many still support the use of torture. The President simply has no way to close Guantanamo unless that move is supported in Congress and the radical right-wingers won't support the action.

    May 24, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  15. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    He cannot do it on his own otherwise it would have been done. Additionally he clearly pointed out that CONGRESS allowed Bush to move 530 detainees , making it baffling why they won't authorize him to do the same.
    The President make it clear that it is not within his power to shut down something that should've never been opened in the first place. It is a source of shame for our country.
    I was very impressed with how well he handled the "heckler". He actually gave her air time, was respectful of her passionate outburst, and acknowledged the validity of some of her points in his remarks.
    What's keeping you from allowing the President to shut this place down Congress, or at the very least empty it out? What, that is, besides your poltically motivated intent to keep him from fulfilling a promise made to us the people?
    Our President is a class act.
    Our Congress is a source of shame.

    May 24, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  16. emskadittle

    call it what it is, parroting rush or hanity

    May 24, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  17. Fred Nesbitt

    Code Pink, It was heckling, you have no respect and are ill informed. Embarrassing!

    May 24, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "Additionally he clearly pointed out that CONGRESS allowed Bush to move 530 detainees , making it baffling why they won't authorize him to do the same."

    Not so baffling: they can't "let him have a win." If Obama says he's gonna do something or promises to try, they will stand in the way like petulant children. For example, all he had to do to assure that immigration reform wouldn't happen by June is say he was hopeful it would happen by June. It's really that simple. Over half of the House and almost half of the Senate are mid-tantrum 2 year olds screaming "nuh uh" while stomping their feet.

    May 24, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    "Code Pink is funded by George Soros and answers to Jimmy Carter. She is a plant. The dems had complete contol of congress in Obama`s first 2 years. GOP had nothing to do with with blocking the closure of Gitmo"

    Admit it....you shop at the same tinfoil hat store that she does.

    May 24, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  20. The Real Tom Paine

    Single-issue voters, regardless of political stripe, rarely understand the realities of power. To suggest that any president can change any policy at any time on a whim without proper consultation with Congress betrays a profound misunderstanding and/or mistrust of how our system works. I don't care if the president is a Democrat or a Republican, no one should expect that, or even want that, in our society. What has made those "moonbats", as Sniffit so elegantly described them, more dangerous than normal is the lack of a political center where deals can be struck so we can move forward. We are living in a time of ideologically-driven politics that is far worse than normal. Ideologues on both sides command a disproportionate amount of influence completely out of proportion to their actual numbers. A return to intelligent, respectful discussion, free of insults, would sideline the single-issue voters and allow things to move forward again.

    May 24, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  21. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ Dutch/Bad Newz Va
    We should respect her passion. At the same time, she should respect the President and let him get his point across. It's not like the President doesn't want to shut Gitmo down. If she has a gripe with someone, look no further than Congress Ms. Congress.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Exactly. Good post Dutch.
    Why would Congress allow Bush to relocate/move out 530 of these "prisoners" either out of the country or into our own maximum security prisons but all of a sudden when Pres. Obama asks them to let him do the same they're saying no?
    He shot down all of their excuses in his speech yesterday. They don't have a leg to stand on, just their poltical motivation to not let this occur under HIS watch.
    Making this President look bad is more important to this Congress than our good standing with our allies and the global community.

    May 24, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  22. hluia

    There is a large difference between being passionate about getting your point across and being downright disrespectful. To disrespect our country's commander in chief is to disrespect America. When I think of all the grief the Dixie Chicks got over "disrespecting" GW Bush, I'm wondering why the same outcry for a public flogging isn't going on.

    May 24, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  23. sly

    President Obama has been clear for 5 years: Close Gitmo.

    Congress – let him do it. We are the foreign invader – how can we justify locking people up for 10 years with no charges?

    And we call ourselves Americans. Come on Republicans in Congress – can't you just once do something for America?

    Keep trying Mr. President, and eventually you will win, as you always do.

    May 24, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  24. Henry

    For this woman to maintain that she was not heckling President Obama is ludicrous. She certainly reflects poorly on the integrity of Code Pink.

    May 24, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  25. Fish

    This woman needs to be thrown in jail and NOT be put in the news. Attention is exactly what activists want. That is why they demonstrate, lay in the middle of the road, heckle the President, whatever. She has no business in politics let alone telling the President what he should be doing.

    May 24, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
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