48 online
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 74 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/24/13

Interview with Code-Pink founder, Medea Benjamin After She "Heckled" Obama

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   18 comments
Message Dennis Bernstein
Become a Fan
  (12 fans)

An Interview with Code-Pink founder, Medea Benjamin, on why she disrupted a national foreign policy speech given May 23 by President Barack Obama

Code-Pink founder, Medea Benjamin, took President Barack Obama head-on during a major foreign policy speech the president was giving Thursday on drone policy and related issues. Benjamin demanded that the president close the Guantanamo Bay prison immediately.  

On at least three occasions, Benjamin engaged the president, ultimately forcing him off script. At one point, a frustrated Obama told the peace activist: "Why don't you sit down, and I will tell you exactly what I'm going to do... about Guantanamo." But soon Benjamin was back up on her feet again, definitely not satisfied with Obama's plan to send detainees to other countries. 

"Release them today!" she screamed, as security moved to eject her from the room. "You are commander in chief! ...  You can close Guantanamo today! ... You can release those 86 prisoners! ... It's been 11 years! ...  I love my country! ... I love the rule of law!" A s she was finally taken into custody by security,  Benjamin shouted --  "Abide by the rule of law! You're a constitutional lawyer!" She also confronted the president on the killing of a 16-year old American citizen.

I spoke to Benjamin right after she was released from federal custody, during a live broadcast on Pacifica Radio's Flashpoints Show. Benjamin said what she really wanted to tell the president if she had a little more time, the significance of the ongoing hunger strike by the detainees at Guantanamo, and why she believes the president should be tried for war crimes based on his extra-legal drone policy.

Here's what Medea really wanted to say had she been given the chance. Although, I think she got more time than most get in that position, and she wasn't even charged with a crime...

DBMedea, how are you feeling? You were taken into custody?

MB: I am doing great. I was held by people in the military base, the FBI, and the secret service, and questioned for a while about who I am and my motives. Then amazingly enough, I was let free with no charges.

DBWhat were you trying to tell the president?

MB: I got to speak three different times. When he was speaking about blaming Congress for not being able to close Guantanamo, I said he is the Commander-in-Chief so obviously has the ability to close Guantanamo today if he wanted to and release the 86 prisoners who have been cleared for release -- so why isn't he doing that.  I got a chance to speak up again, talk about the drone strikes and ask why he isn't taking them out of the hands of the CIA. Why isn't he prohibiting signature strikes where people are killed just on the basis of suspicious activities? And why will he not apologize to, and compensate the families of the innocent victims of our drone strikes?  I got one more chance and asked who killed the 16-year-old American Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, and why?

DBThat's when you were arrested and taken into custody?

MB: Yes.

DB:  Obama made a major foreign policy speech today. He said something about Guantanamo. What is your response to what the president said?

MB: I was hoping we would get some significant changes because the rumors had been flying about real policy changes like the ones I just mentioned. Unfortunately what we got is more rhetoric that justifies the drone program.  He talked about Anwar al-Awlaki but refused to talk about his 16-year old son. He said the drone strikes are only used when we can't capture people, which is not true. I know many examples where it would have been simple to capture people, such as 16-year old Tariq Aziz from Pakistan, who was in the capital city of Islamabad at a public meeting in a public hotel. Instead of capturing him there, he was killed two days later by a drone strike.  

In Yemen there are many drone strikes that are very near the capital city were people could have easily been captured. There were many statements in the speech that weren't true. Unfortunately there were no significant policy changes except the restricting of the self-imposed ban on not releasing people from Guantanamo to Yemen.

DB:  You told Obama you wanted him to recognize the hunger strike. Why is it very important for the president of the United States to recognize the hunger strike?

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Must Read 7   Inspiring 7   News 3  
Rate It | View Ratings

Dennis Bernstein Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Dennis J Bernstein is the host and executive producer of Flashpoints, a daily news magazine broadcast on Pacifica Radio. He is an award-winning investigative reporter, essayist and poet. His articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Nation, and (more...)

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

John Pilger on Israel's Gaza Rampage: It's Not Just War

Weapons Inspector Refutes U.S. Syria Chemical Claims

Interview with Code-Pink founder, Medea Benjamin After She "Heckled" Obama

Wanna-Be Presidential Assassin Hinkley Goes Free, Leonard Peltier Left to Rot and Die in Prison

The War on WikiLeaks and Assange

"Ehud Barak Gave the Order to Kill"

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend