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. Data Driven


    Another fable from your side, I fear. Kennedy dies, it takes 6 months to confirm Franken from Minnesota, and Mr. Playgirl from Massachusetts is elected in Kennedy's place. Dems had 60 votes in the Senate for 2 months. And if you have less than 60 in the Senate, you don't "control" Congress.

    While I'm picking on Obama on this issue, the GOPhers have behaved in such a manner as to not warrant civilized discussion on Gitmo, so, please.

    May 24, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  2. Bob Ramos

    While the irritation with Ms. Benjamin was justified, how else is Obama going to hear what the American public really wants? Every President from whenever has been insulated by a small group of people who make sure that he only hears what they want him to hear. This played to terrible consequences during the first Bush term when he heard only from folks like Cheney, Rumsfeld and the other chicken hawks. It happened to LBJ when he heard from the same type of people about Vietnam. This is a terrible price of Presidential isolation.

    On Gitmo – Once the Yemen group is out of the way, Obama via Executive Order needs to close Gitmo ASAP. The GOP chicken hawks with put up a terrible fuss but by the time the SC hears the case, the issue will be moot. Because of this, the SC may even elect not to hear the case. What's to lose?

    May 24, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  3. Bob

    She is nothing more then someone looking for 5 minutes of fame. Shouting at anyone during a speech no matter who does nothing more then draw attention to you the person shouting....

    May 24, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  4. drneutrino

    heck·le (hkl)
    tr.v. heck·led, heck·ling, heck·les
    1. To try to embarrass and annoy (someone speaking or performing in public) by questions, gibes, or objections; badger.
    2. To comb (flax or hemp) with a hatchel.

    Well I didn't see the feed so there's no evidence that she was combing with a hatchel or had any hemp but from the audio it sure sounded like she was high and mighty and determined to embarrass and annoy.


    May 24, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  5. Scott

    I call it heckling when you are interrupting someone who is trying to speak by screaming at them.

    You are entitled to your opinion, madam. You are not entitled to be a jackass in expressing it. There are better ways of making your disagreements known.

    May 24, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  6. smith

    What`s funny is you libs blame the GOP when your dems in congress were not in favor of closing gitmo as well

    May 24, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  7. rof

    dear god that woman is revolting o_o

    May 24, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  8. jaron kadek

    No, it wasn't heckling. It was a plant, a planned event for television, meant to emphasize Obama's contention that there is a 'public outcry' for Gitmo's closure. Ever wonder why it is that only Code Pink gets through security in order to disrupt these events? It is because they are all in the game.

    Let a pro life woman disrupt BO, and you will see an entirely different response.

    May 24, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  9. Dan5404

    Mr. Ramos: What do you mean how else is the public going to be heard? Unless they are deaf and blind, they can hear opposing arguments constantly on TV, radio and in newspapers and magazines. FOX news generally only reports ANTI-Obama views. She really doesn't think Obama hasn't heard everything she said before? Rude heckling and posing as a member of the press are certainly not ways to be accepted as anything more than someone trying to force her opinion on everyone else. As a matter of fact, she may have violated a law by posing as someone else in order to get near a president. That's sometimes how assassinations occur.

    May 24, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  10. Yag Kosher

    It isn't heckling. It's rude, disrespectful and boorish. Maybe the child needs to grow up a little bit.

    May 24, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  11. Berman

    How exactly is Code Pink "progressive"? How is supporting Hugo Chavez, Hamas, and Ahmadinejad "progressive"?

    May 24, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  12. RickV

    Not heckling, more like an orchestrated moment, and she was probably on the clock of an Obama supporter.

    May 24, 2013 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  13. Kent Atwood

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

    I don't know about you but any guest who pees on my coffee table is not getting a second invitation.

    Way to go Benjamin. You just insured that no one from Code Pink will ever be invited to a presidential press conference. Did that help your cause?

    May 24, 2013 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  14. Steve

    While I dont agree with her views, I aplaud her tenacity. If more people were as passonate about their country as her, we would have a very different political climate. One thing I wonder is how does she support herself?

    May 24, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  15. GoneToPot

    Sure, close Gitmo; bring the ones housed there to the US; try them in civil court; give them the same rights as US citizens have; send them back to their home country; they won't rejoin the fight against US citizens; if you are for all of that then you should believe that fat babies don't fart as well.

    May 24, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  16. ANDY

    Whatever happened to decency and respect in this country. Anyone with any kind of brains at all, would know that there is a time and a place for everything. Shouting at the president, during a major policy speech (or during the state of the union) is just plane wrong! Like the man or not, you have to respect him. He IS the president. He isn't a dog or one of your kids to be shouted at.

    May 24, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  17. Mr.Sonneillon

    Implementing....policies we need to see...changed. Wait what? How do change something that hasnt been implemented?

    May 24, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  18. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I don't know about you but any guest who pees on my coffee table is not getting a second invitation.
    I would say that any guest who pees on my coffee table is a rude guest....and yes, for sure, no second invite for them.

    May 24, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  19. J in NJ

    "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." Actually Ms he cannot do this on his own. Closing gitmo will take an act of congress and that aint gonna happen anytime soon.

    May 24, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  20. Darrell

    You people are so stupid, if he didn't do anything to protect the country you'd say he was weak. Since he has been doing it all of a sudden you give a #$%$ about people that have sworn to kill us all? I am also sorry if 4 americans were killed by the drones, but if those americans swore an oath against there own country ...sorry they gotta go as well. Now you're trying to blame him for Bengazi, IRS and the house that fell on the evil witch and the Linbergh baby. If you are trying to kill me and my family and i get to you first you die first period. This is war folks people die some that shouldn't and that is truly sad. We cannot, will not let these fools win. Now if you want to keep dreaming of puppys, kittens, gumdrops, go ahead this is the real world. By the way where are all the Republicans doing for our economy?? Oh yeah the economy is running full blast!!! Now why don't your Republican business friends start hiring?

    May 24, 2013 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  21. Greg

    @Berman, because "progressive" is the politically correct liberal codeword for a well intentioned, yet ultimately horrific, dictatorship. They are "progressive" because they want to destroy the status quo, because they are angry, hate-filled loons that want to destroy everything so that they feel everyone is equally miserable.

    May 24, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  22. Bob Dobalina

    About as spontaneous as the sun rising in the morning.

    May 24, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  23. John Smyth

    It was planted and a diversion that didn't work.

    May 24, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  24. call it what it is

    Yea... that's heckling.

    May 24, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  25. Texas

    This is what happens when you put an uneducated woman in a room and let her emotions take over. Any educated person would read a little bit and see that Congress is the reason GB isn't closed and further that by not letting Obama respond she diminished herself to nothing more than a crazy woman.

    May 24, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
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