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Anti-war activist heckles Obama over Gitmo

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By The Washington Post

Published: Thursday, May 23, 2013, 8:27 p.m.

President Obama had a run-in with a heckler on Thursday when a founder of the anti-war group Code Pink interrupted a speech on drone policy and other national security issues.

Near the end of Obama's address at the National Defense University, a woman identified as longtime activist Medea Benjamin implored the president to close the Guantanamo Bay prison. The president traded words with Benjamin, asking her to let him finish.

“Why don't you sit down, and I will tell you exactly what I'm going to do,” Obama said, ending their first exchange. “Thank you, ma'am.”

But soon, Benjamin was back, apparently not happy with Obama's comments about sending detainees to other countries and pleading with him to “release them today.”

“I'm willing to cut the young lady who interrupted me some slack, because it's worth being passionate about,” Obama responded. “Is this who we are? Is that something our founders foresaw?”

Soon she spoke up again.

“You are commander in chief! You can close Guantanamo today!” Benjamin shouted. “You can release those 86 prisoners!”

“It's been 11 years!” she said.

“Let me finish,” Obama pleaded.

“I love my country. I love the rule of law!” she said as she was removed by security officers.

Obama then tried to lighten the situation and repeated that Benjamin deserved to be heard.

“I'm going off-script, as you might have expected,” he said with a laugh. “The voice of that woman is worth paying attention to. Obviously, I do not agree with much of what she said, and obviously she wasn't listening to me and much of what I said. But these are tough issues, and the suggestion that we can gloss over them is wrong.”

 

 
 


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