A left-wing activist heckled President Barack Obama during his foreign policy speech Thursday, objecting to the president’s inability to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center as promised.
“There is no justification, beyond politics, for Congress to prevent us from closing a facility that should have never been opened,” Obama said in regard to Guantanamo Bay, prompting an outburst from veteran Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the progressive activist organization Code Pink, who recently said in an interview that she refuses to allow Obama to shift the blame for not closing Guantanamo to Congress.
“It’s not Congress. It’s you, sir! … You are commander-in-chief. You can close Guantanamo today!” Benjamin shouted at Obama, drawing a moderate amount of applause for her disruption.
“Part of free speech is you being able to speak, but also me being able to speak. And you listening,” Obama said in response to Benjamin.
Obama notably agreed with the content of Benjamin’s interruption.
“It’s worth being passionate about. Is this who we are?” he asked.
Benjamin was interviewed May 11 after a Code Pink protester chained herself to the White House gate in protest of Guantanamo Bay’s continued existence, saying that she refuses to allow the president to blame Congress for his own inaction.
“These men in Guantanamo are in desperate conditions,” Benjamin said in the interview. “They’d rather die than continue in indefinite detention…put the pressure on President Obama. Don’t let them say that he wants to close Guantanamo but it’s Congress that is in his way. He’s the most powerful man in the entire world. He can close Guantanamo today.”
Code Pink protesters interrupted former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s speech at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library earlier this week.