May 24th, 2013
12:05 PM ET
9 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.

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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. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Nothing is going to change in Congress unless they realize in 2014 that we are sick and tired of the partisanship. And more importantly of the ill-hidden all out effort since January 20th 2009 to derail THIS President's tenure any way they can even in spite of how that may impact the country as a whole.
    I've said it before and I'll say it again: It has become crystal clear to even the most optimist, and non-partisan amongst us that what a certain segment of Congress is doing, and another segment is too chicken-$hit to put the brakes on is to make this President look like a failure. Why they are doing this I don't know and I really don't care. Could it be greed, hunger for power, hatred, racism. Who the hell knows. What I do know is that it has been going on for FIVE PLUS years NON-STOP.
    The only way this is going to stop is to vote these people out in the same determined and overwhelming way that we voted the President back in for his second term. They didn't see that coming. Let's surprise the hell out of them again in 2014.Otherwise, we're just as pathetic as they are.

    May 24, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  2. VEW2012

    The only word for it is heckling, but then free speech sometimes takes that form. To close Gitmo requires the help of congress. I think any rational person including the president knows that Gitmo needs to be closed ASAP. Only the shameful goof-offs in congress would rather pay $900,000 per prisoner to keep them at Gitmo as opposed to paying 1/10th that to house them state-side.

    The President handled the distraction with Ms. Benjamin needs to heckle where it might not be viewed as singing to the choir....namely heckle the Republican misfits in congress.

    May 24, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  3. JC

    Obama had a filibuster-proof majority in congress during his first 18 months in office. If he really wanted to close Gitmo, it would have been done long ago. The big, bad Republicans have nothing to do with it.

    May 24, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  4. Mr Bean

    She is nothing more than a trouble maker who's parents didn't give her the attention she felt she needed. A little girl in a woman's body.

    May 24, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  5. smith

    Who really cares about code pink

    May 24, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  6. bankrupt1

    probably wasn't heckling

    May 24, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  7. jnpa

    If she doesn't know that the POTUS cannot shut down GITMO or any military installation without the support and authority of Congress then she should find another activist job. She was rude and obnoxious.

    May 24, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  8. smith

    So you libs deny the truth that the dems controlled the all3 branchs of govt. in Obama`s firt 2 yrs

    May 24, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  9. wild man

    how did she ever get in there? usually they pack the house with a bunch of pre screened democrat puppets just like the debates are a bunch of pre approved questions and topics. the whole thing is one big joke just like the change he promised the country

    May 24, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  10. Wake up People!

    @Dominican Mama!

    Say it again girl!!! I second that emotion!

    May 24, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  11. Demigod Vadik, CA

    At one point streaking was considered cool...

    ...but after a while, we all grow up...

    ...this heckler was just dumb...

    ...and honestly, it was funny how Obama first destroyed this heckler than gave her the death stare...

    ...that stare is the stare Obama gave bin Laden just before putting a bullet thru bin Ladens skull...

    May 24, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  12. Demigod Vadik, CA


    Obama had a filibuster proof majority???!!!

    ...that is 60 Senators...

    ...Obama NEVER had 60 Democratic Senators...

    ...where do you freaks get this inaccurate information???!!

    May 24, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  13. Richard Long

    Code Pink can kiss there tax-exempt status goodbye!!! Go get them IRS! Show no mercy!!!

    May 24, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  14. 22

    The GOP have no other agenda than to block everything the president tries to do.I guess they were counting on us not noticing that they are obstructionists or thought we'd be too dumb to figure them out period.Breaking news GOPERS,we don't all watch Fox or listen only to Rush,you will pay at the polls at every election .I'm sick of these so called "patriots" who claim to love America but will stop at nothing to destroy it as long as the president doesn't get a 'win'.Wake up people.Call,write or email your congressman and register your displeasure with the way congress is doing it's job.,or better still kick them out in the midterm election..........come on 2014.

    May 24, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  15. Mark

    The commander-in-chief cant do it on his own. Also, this lady kept yelling out she is an american. I am an army vet, and I believe this lady needs to go to the middle east and see what happens to her. She can tell those muslims she is on there side, and still see what they do to her after finding out she is an american. She asked the president to compensate families that had members killed by drone bombings. How about all the victims of 911 or thousands of suicide bombings around the world terrorist groups have claimed? One great thing about this country is if you dont like it hear, LEAVE!!

    May 24, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    "So you libs deny the truth that the dems controlled the all3 branchs of govt. in Obama`s firt 2 yrs"

    1. Ted Kennedy passed away in August 2009 and was largely unavailable prior to that due to his brain tumor. That alone ruined the chance to have a filibuster proof majority for most of the time prior to August and for all the time after. There goes your "2 years."

    2. Al Franken was embroiled in a bitter election recount battle with Coleman and did not get to take the oath of office until July 8, 2009. That screws up most of the time Ted Kennedy was still alive. There goes your "2 years."

    3. Scott Brown took his oath of office on February 4, 2010, so again, there goes your "2 years."

    4. All in all, the best you can do, making all assumptions in your favor, is total about 6 months during which Dems had a supermajority in the Senate, and even that is intermittent, not a straight 6 months.

    5. Stop pretending that the minority, if wiling to filibuster anything and everything out of spite and just to make a mess, doesn't control the Senate. They do, and it needs to stop.

    May 24, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  17. cnnife

    "He is the commander-in-chief. He can do this on his own". Democracy doesn`t work like that lady!

    May 24, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  18. John

    I really love Code Pink – they're the only ones speaking out these days! Amen – they are really telling it like it is!

    May 24, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |

    She needs to volunteer at a soup kitchen if she wants to help people out.

    May 24, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  20. PaulCat

    Dominican mama 4 Obama
    Very well said: I agree.
    Vote them all out in 2014 and watch this country grow once again.

    May 24, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  21. Deesnutz

    Obama calls it heckling so it was heckling, you have been intimidated and ashamed accept your fate.

    May 24, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  22. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The Democrats had the majority in Congress his first year.
    Why Gitmo wasn't brought up at that time I don't know, I can only surmise. Here's what I think:
    I don't think that the President thought that closing Gitmo would turn into a point of contention for Congress. Gitmo had been a source of shame for our country. It put us in hypocritical light with our allies. Additionally Congress had allowed Dubyah to move out hundreds of those prisoners.
    Closing Gitmo may have looked like something that we could all agree upon. A no brainer.
    He misjudged the level of hatred.
    He misjudged the GOP's single-minded commitment to make him a one-termer.
    He misjudged that the Right was willing to vote against their OWN BILLS in order to not agree with him.
    But I'm just guessing here. Some of you political junkies can correct me if I'm way off base here.

    May 24, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  23. Bill

    She's part of the problem. Too busy yelling her head off and not listening to the replies she's getting

    May 24, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  24. DW

    This had nothing to do with the government. No other country were willing to take the inmates that were at Gitmo and I am pretty sure that the US didn't want them either.

    May 24, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  25. Wake up People!

    So constantly interrupting the President of the United States while he is speaking is considered what exactly??

    Oh yeah, business as usual for a republikkkan.

    Please stop talking about 60 Senators. Has everyone forgotten how ill Ted Kennedy was before he passed away??? I doubt he could vote on anything. But then again facts don't matter to Foxbots.

    May 24, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
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