May 23rd, 2013
03:55 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama heckled by Code Pink leader

Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama's solemn remarks on drones and counterterrorism were interrupted at length Thursday by a protester who loudly advocated for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison – the same position Obama was stressing in his speech.

The woman shouting was identified as peace activist Medea Benjamin of the group Code Pink, whose members have been loudly interrupting congressional hearings and official speeches for years.

"You are commander-in-chief – you can close Guantanamo today," Benjamin shouted during a portion of Obama's speech in which the president outlined changes in policy that included an all-out push to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba. She later yelled, "It's been 11 years!"

Benjamin herself is a frequent presence at events in Washington and elsewhere. It was unclear how she entered the speech, held at the National Defense University. Other members of the audience included students at the school, experts in human rights and national security, and government officials who have helped develop counterterrorism policies.

"This is part of free speech, is you being able to speak but also you listening and me being able to speak, alright?" Obama said upon the first interruption.

Benjamin kept up her protest, which also included a rebuke against American drone strikes which have killed civilians. Obama eventually diverted from his prepared remarks to address the situation head-on.

READ MORE: Obama says America at 'crossroads' in terror fight

"The voice of that woman is worth paying attention to," he said. "Obviously I do not agree with much of what she said and obviously she wasn't listening to me in much of what I said. But these are tough issues and the suggestion that we can gloss over them is wrong."

On their official Twitter page, the group hailed Benjamin's protest

And in the conclusion of his remarks, Obama added another nod to Benjamin's protest as he listed ways a victory in the war on terror would be assessed.

"Victory will be measured in parents taking their kids to school, immigrants coming to our shores, fans taking in a ballgame, a veteran starting a business, a bustling city street, a citizen shouting at your concerns at a president," he said.

"The quiet determination, that strength of character and bond of fellowship, that refutation of fear, that is both our sword and our shield."

READ MORE: Obama, 'troubled' by leak probes, calls for review

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (99 Responses)
  1. Sailor101

    @Norm.....really? I mean REALLY?

    May 23, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  2. goblackhawks

    First Hypatia .. It is ok to heckle any president .. that is what our soliders fight for .. that is the reason we have freedom in this country (1st Amnd) .. Next Norm .. you sound very jejune .. Ever heard of Herman Cain, Col West ... I can't wait till Dr Ben Carson runs for president .. so we can see real bigots like yourself react .. Guess what .. no one cares what color Obama is .. we care about how incomptent he is ... He just heard about the IRS scandal from the news ? It must be Bush's fault ... I miss having a grown up in the Oval Office

    May 23, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Must be nice to travel around protesting instead of working like normal people.

    May 23, 2013 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  4. Hasai

    "You are commander-in-chief – you can close Guantanamo today!"

    Sure, little girl, he certainly could; right after he ordered Gitmo security to put a bullet in the back of the head of each of the inmates. Or, better yet, just let them go to kill more Americans.

    Do you believe in the Easter Bunny, as well?

    May 23, 2013 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  5. No

    Hypatia, you have no business living in a democracy.

    May 23, 2013 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    "Benjamin was obnoxious ... But not incorrect"

    She was 100% incorrect. Jus because Obama is POTUS doesn't mean he can snap his fingers, order Gitmo closed immediately and follow it up with a "make it so" just in case anyone had any ideas about pointing out the limits of his authority. She's ridiculous. There's a difference between wanting the correct outcome and being correct about how it can be achieved.

    May 23, 2013 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  7. binag

    One word! Staged!

    May 23, 2013 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  8. demes

    She is stupid and does not know how to address an issue

    May 23, 2013 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  9. John Jingle

    To the Libs who actually believe Obama ended the War in Iraq, more misinformed dolts. When will you misinformed and liars ever realize Obama hasn't done a thing! To include closing Gitmo! He's a bag of hot air, full of failure.

    The U.S.–Iraq Status of Forces Agreement (official name: "Agreement Between the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq On the Withdrawal of United States Forces from Iraq and the Organization of Their Activities during Their Temporary Presence in Iraq") was a status of forces agreement (SOFA) between Iraq and the United States, signed by President George W. Bush in 2008. It established that U.S. combat forces would withdraw from Iraqi cities by June 30, 2009, and all U.S. forces will be completely out of Iraq by December 31, 2011.

    And of course, the lies that Obama has dug us out of some mess that HE VOTED for when he was a Senator, something that the Obama masses seem to forget. Obama had more to do with the financial crisis then Bush ever did. That is something that the leftist dolts seem to forget. Obama was a pioneering contributor to the national subprime real estate bubble, and roughly half of the 186 African-American clients in his landmark 1995 mortgage discrimination lawsuit against Citibank. Obama lawsuit was on element of a national anti-redlining campaign led by Chicago's progressive groups who argued that banks unfairly refused to lend money to people living within so-called redlines around African-American communities. The campaign was powered by progressives' moral claim that their expertise could boost home ownership among the US most disadvantaged minority, African-Americans.

    Bush warned the Democratic Congress 17 times in 2008 along about the systemic consequences of financial turmoil at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and also put forward thoughtful plans to reduce the risk that either would encounter such difficulties. Barney Frank said that everything was a-okay and it was the Democrats and Obama who destroyed the economy.

    May 23, 2013 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  10. Once again, Obama waves his magic wand

    Best president? Worst president? That arguement is irrelevent when the standard the voters are simply satisfied with terrible. Bush was a terrible president. Obama, just as bad, if not worse. What ever your party affiliation is, we the voters are failing ourselves. People need to be more involved in the voting process earlier on such as paying attention to and participating in their party's primaries. Make sure your party is trully putting It's best foot forward and make sure your party is trully pushing platforms that are in the interest of the American people. IF YOU ARE NOT INFORMED AND YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT IT IS YOU ARE VOTING FOR YOU SHOULDN'T VOTE!!!

    May 23, 2013 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  11. JohnRJohnson

    So, Medea is as ill-informed as she is loud.

    May 23, 2013 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  12. JohnRJohnson

    From what I've seen in CNN forums like this, the people who object most to Obama know the least about the facts and even less about his actual policies. Just like Medea, who thinks it is Obama's fault for not closing GTMO. Some here even think that Obama caused the economic meltdown, which really began two years before he took office.

    May 23, 2013 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    disgusting. she undermines the integrity of activism.
    I agree with her message, but...I hope she gets arrested for something.
    Heckling the president is disgraceful.
    But I guess since the republicans oK'd it with that staged publicity seeking interruption by Rep. Wilson, they condoned this kind of behavior. They set the standard for a new low in behavior.

    May 23, 2013 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  14. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Presidents are remembered for the big things, and so far, his accomplishments don't compare to LBJ, Lincoln, Washington, FDR, Jefferson, Reagan, amongst others
    Oh I don't know, but there's something to be said for pulling us from the grips of a global Depression with the most obstructive congress in U.S. history blocking any and every atempt to keep him from doing so.

    May 23, 2013 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  15. John Jingle

    And to add more to that crisis, Bill Clinton was also a key player in the housing market collapse leading to the economic melt down. The Community Reinvestment Act, was a primary factor in the housing market crash and the overall economy. The misinformed and sheep will never do their own research or pay attention to anything other then the MSM and their protective acts for the Democratic/Socialist/Progressive movement in this country. All of them, will use the blame game to maximum effectiveness with the assistance of the LameStreamMedia. Now I'll wait for the lame comments about Bush, Fox, Rush, Hannity, and all the other idiotic comments. Because when it come down to it, thats really all you dolts have, the same old lies and idiotic comments.

    May 23, 2013 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  16. Bluedestiny

    Hey CNN, great journalists that you are, how about filling in the readers on what exactly Ms. Benjamin expect us to do with the fanatics who are sworn to murder us if released. That's like releasing Manson on our streets at the same time he was telling us he'd like to cook our children when behind bars.

    "You are commander-in-chief – you can close Guantanamo today," ... and do what? Talk about incomplete reporting, no surprise.

    May 23, 2013 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  17. Liberal Sense (Or lack thereof)

    Heckled by a liberal. Anything against them for doing that CNN libs?

    May 23, 2013 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  18. Harald

    Some people really have nothing useful to do. People like this Code Pink figure protest against everything and anything without actually understanding the larger context.

    May 23, 2013 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  19. loudmusic

    What the President laid out today will instantly be labelled the "Obama Doctrine" as it applies to terrorism. Whether or not you agree with the policies set forth, it was a well-crafted speech that acknowledged the downsides and, for better or worse, tried to rationalize most of them...a fairly cogent argument for the use of drone strikes and the use of foreign aid as an anti-terrosim weapon. And give the Pres credit for handling the Code Pink interruption without resorting to insulting the protestor...that was a class move.

    May 23, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  20. Guest

    This is hilarious. You guys LOVED when this happened to Bush but now it's unacceptable? Ha!

    May 23, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  21. scott

    Amy....thats just the best!!!!!!!! So only Libs are hypocrits? She was a plant? I see people like you guys on TV and the characters are not even believable. No one would act like that in real life....but this silly liberal proved wrong again by all you great and wise conservatives. Its proven fact that many people held in Gitmo were not we just push them out of the plane beacon of freedom you. I thought you guys were all Ben Ghazi all the time....Metalhead sixtyfive has about the same mindset as the boston bomber I see....killem all and let god sort them out. Sure hope you werent born in July there metal hat!!!!!!

    May 23, 2013 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  22. Jsilva

    He may not be a great president, but compared to the damage bush did, he is a lot better. Look to the republicans to lose the white house in 2016 and 2020. Hey, majority rules.

    May 23, 2013 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  23. splinter48708

    "Put [her] on the blacklist! I never want to hear [her] again!" - Obama paraphrasing Chancellor Adam Sutler ("V for Vendetta")


    May 23, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  24. Liberal Sense (Or lack thereof)

    Libs will of course go after code pink because they're going after their messiah.

    May 23, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
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