President Obama was heckled Thursday by a woman while giving a major national security speech at the National Defense University in Washington.
The anti-war group Code Pink identified the woman as Medea Benjamin, one of its founders, who had received press credentials for the event, according to a statement from the National Defense University,
“When it was apparent this individual would not be deterred by the President’s effort to address her concerns, officials from the National Defense University staff and Base Police asked her to leave and escorted her from the venue,” the statement says. “She has been questioned by Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall police.”
Benjamin began to interrupt the president when he started to speak about closing the detention center at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“There are 102 people on a hunger strike,” she shouted. “These are desperate people.”
“I’m about to address it, ma’am, but you’ve got to let me speak,” Obama replied. “I’m about to address it.”
But she persisted and was eventually led away while shouting: “Can you tell the Muslim people their lives are as precious as our lives?” Can you take the drones out of the hands of the CIA … Will you apologize to the thousands of Muslims you have killed?”
Not missing a beat, Obama picked up his speech by saying that Benjamin’s voice is “worth paying attention to.”
“Obviously, I do not agree with much of what she said, and obviously she wasn’t listening to me in much of what I said,” Obama continued. “But these are tough issues, and the suggestion that we can gloss over them is wrong.”
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIVERSITY STATEMENT ON DISTURBANCE DURING PRESIDENT’S SPEECH:
The individual who continued to attempt to interrupt the President’s speech at the National Defense University was given access via the list of media attendees expected. When it was apparent this individual would not be deterred by the President’s effort to address her concerns, officials from the National Defense University staff and Base Police asked her to leave and escorted her from the venue. She has been questioned by Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall police.
This speech was not open to the general public. Attendance for non-media was limited to invited guests from the National Defense University faculty, staff, and student body, along with those invited by the White House.
Please address any additional questions to the White House Press Office.