Medea Benjamin wasn’t even sure she was going to get into the building on Thursday, let alone hear President Obama say she is a “woman worth listening to.”
The 60-year-old had been given a pass by a friend to the president’s counterterrorism speech at the National Defense University, in which he was expected to address major new reforms in his foreign-policy strategy. A well-known antiwar activist and frequent heckler of powerful people, she wasn’t sure she’d get past security.
“If he had indeed made significant policy changes, I wasn’t going to say anything,” Benjamin, the founder of Code Pink told The Daily Beast on Thursday evening. “I would have preferred that option, but given that he didn’t make those kind of changes I was looking for, I was glad to be given the opportunity to speak out.”
“Speak out” she certainly did. As the president’s address pivoted from drones, which he vowed to reduce the use of, to the U.S. prison at Guantánamo Bay, Benjamin stood up and began shouting unsolicited questions about the hunger strikes there, interrupting the speech and begging Obama to shut the prison down. “Why don’t you sit down,” the president replied, “and I will tell you exactly what I’m going to do.”
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