May 23rd, 2013
03:55 PM ET
9 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. Martha Washingto

    OR Congress where are the

    May 23, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  2. just sayin

    i just love it when a far left loon interrupts the rantings of another far left loon... there is some justice in this world.

    May 23, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  3. Midfield Maestro

    I support this President, but at times he needs a kick in the butt for the unfulfilled promises. Kudos to the lady.

    May 23, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  4. m123

    Bush, I mean Obama, reaps what he sows

    May 23, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  5. The Voice of Truth

    Get back in the kitchen, woman – know your place.

    And Code Pink makes nice frilly underwear.

    May 23, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  6. Caiha

    Actually the whole point of free speech is to ensure no one listens.

    May 23, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  7. genengineer05

    Obama SHOULD be challenged – he should have been challenged and questioned about issues for years – instead of the hands-off, love fest, we've gotten from the media and Obamabots. Funny, people gave Bush the third degree for years – for much, much less. With Obama it's a "do as you please mindset" – why grill one and not the other? The hypocrisy is astounding.........

    May 23, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  8. WakeUpUSA

    ANOTHER crock from the expert on crockery!

    May 23, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  9. Johnp40

    I don't know what to believe. So much double talk. A different spin for each day of the week.

    May 23, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  10. goblackhawks

    ABout time Code Pink ... Geez. Fast Furious, Benghazi, Gitmo still open, Drones, How soon until MSNBC and CNN attack this woman for upsetting Dear Leader .. Watch out Code Pink .. the IRS might investigate you

    May 23, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  11. Gurgyl

    For your information in this nation entire legal system is totally flawed. Watch Attorneys first for unethical fee chargings, greed, and tax evasions. Nab. Gittmo is a waste of money. Close. Propagate reformative punishment. Deterrent is not good.

    May 23, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  12. Conrad Shull

    OK, fine. Close Guantanamo. Then, what? Set them all free? (They are there because they are a clear, real danger to Americans). So, they go to some other detention center. What would the difference be between that center and Guantanamo? Merely symbolic? If so, forget it.

    May 23, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  13. jackola

    I can't help but admire our president and our democracy.

    May 23, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  14. Marty

    This speech was on Ft. McNair – an Army base in the D.C. area. There is no free access to this base. You must have a military ID or a special pass to even get on the base. Furthermore, to get into see the President, a person would have needed further clearance. So, how the hell did this heckler ever get on the base and into the same building as the President? The Secret Service ain't supposed to let this happen. I think we'll hear more about this incident.

    May 23, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  15. markiejoe

    Conservatives support Code Pink.

    Gotta love it.

    May 23, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  16. David

    There is a time and a place for protesting, and I don't agree that interrupting the President of the United States during a speech is the way to go. For the record, I am not an Obama supporter. But he is still the President, and there is a certain level of respect that needs to be given. We teach our children to respect others, and our elders. "Protesting" doesn't have to mean that we throw out civility, manners, and respect.

    May 23, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  17. just askin

    it is very strange to see all the far left obama supporters in here attack the code pink zealot that interrupted obama during his speech. you were full of support for them when these very same people attacked bush for the very same policies that obama has continued for 4.5 going on 8 years. don't you all get a bit twisted up with your twisted and inconsistent ideology? or is your personality cult attraction to obama stronger than your political attaction to him?

    May 23, 2013 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  18. Marc S

    Code Pink was a terrible Mountain Dew product, had a fishy taste.

    May 23, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  19. lgbarn

    Lots of dumb comments. Obama has tried to close the place but Congress won't let him do it. Maybe an American Government lesson is needed before you comment on CNN

    May 23, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  20. Josh Bender

    She sounds like a plant to me... the real people protesting got little coverage...wag the dog

    May 23, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  21. California Gary

    Poor Code Pink........they are left with heckling the POTUS (who agrees with them on the GITMO thing) because they can't heckle the real culprits in congress.......they aren't available much.......when they are working at all, they are locked up in hearing rooms playing "gotcha" and trying to connect non-existent dots to the POTUS.

    May 23, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  22. doughnuts

    And I'm JUST SAYIN' that you aren't very bright if you think Obama is "far left."
    He's just barely to the left of Reagan, and slightly to the right of Eisenhower.

    May 23, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  23. he sure is consistent with the blame game

    So basically he wants to close Gitmo but has no viable plan to do it and wants to blame others for stopping him from implementing his unworkable and unacceptable plan. Some leadership there Barry! This guy hasn't learned anything in 4.5 years. He isn't smart, he's dense.

    May 23, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  24. Gordon

    Obama is one of the very best Presidents we have had. If only he could impliment more of his ideas we would move forward as a country. You can't run a company on old ideas. Obama wants to move American forward. The repubs want to live on old ideas and past accomplishments.

    May 23, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  25. goblackhawks

    No markiejoe .. I think Code Pink is a bunch of whackos .. but I'm glad they are finally not a bunch of hypocrites ... Where have the protests been .. Fast & Furious .. Eric Holder gave weapons to drug dealers in Mexico .. where is the outrage . On election day in 2008 .. Black Panthers stood infront of a polling place .. Eric Holder drop charges .. Where's the outrage ... in fact where is the news media ? I'm glad Gitmo is still open and I hope those "people" never leave Gitmo ... remember they want to kill US .. in fact many have left Gitmo and go back to Terrorism ..

    May 23, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
1 2 3 4