Friday, May 24, 2013
Medea Benjamin (Code Pink) scores a victory at Obama’s national security speech
“The voice of that woman is worth paying attention to”—President Barack Obama, responding to Medea Benjamin
by Larry Geller
You’d never know it from the article in today’s Star-Advertiser, but long-time activist and Code Pink founder Medea Benjamin scored an impressive victory Thursday during President Obama’s speech at the National Defense University.
“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.”
Benjamin managed to interrupt Obama three times, which appears to be a first. Did he allow her to remain after her first outburst because it suited his purposes (unlikely, but possible), or did Benjamin outfox the Secret Service? Her account of the event appears as part of a lengthy interview on today’s Democracy Now (10 p.m. Chan. 54 on Oahu, or any time at democracynow.org).
Some of the commercial press did report what she said, in part, including the Star-Advertiser, but for quality coverage, check out the Democracy Now segment. The program provides good commentary as well on the content of Obama’s speech.
Here’s the part about how Benjamin managed to get the President’s attention three times:
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Medea, having watched interruptions of presidents over many decades, I was struck by the fact that you got to interrupt him three different times in that speech. I’m wondering, do you get a sense—did you get a sense they were going—usually, after the first or maybe the second time, the Secret Service would move in to drag people away. But did you get a sense that maybe, to some degree, his people didn’t mind the interruptions, to the degree that he was then able to show that he is confronting opposition on the left to his policies?
MEDEA BENJAMIN: No, not at all. That’s not the way it went down, Juan. What you didn’t see is what was happening behind the scenes, of the Secret Service, the FBI, the people from the base coming over and saying, "You must come with us immediately, or you’ll be under arrest," and trying to grab me. And I was saying, "Don’t touch me. I’ll scream. You don’t want to make a scene in front of the president. You will regret this if you do it." And they were really confused about what to do.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: So, no order came down immediately to remove you then from the—after the first interruption?
MEDEA BENJAMIN: They all came down immediately, and they didn’t know what to do, so they sat down next to me. They sat down behind me. They got up again. They told me I must leave. I said, "No, I’m not leaving." This was all going on in between those three interruptions.
Check out also Medea Benjamin’s book on drone warfare:
Amazon.com: Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control (9781935928812): Medea Benjamin: Books
A snip from the book that I find scary:
With drones substituting more and more for boots on the ground, the conflicts become even more obscure. The paradox is that while the US military is engaged in more and longer conflicts than ever in our history, fewer people are involved, touched, concerned, or engaged. The public is barely even aware of these conflicts. It’s like a low-grade fever that the body politic has learned to live with and basically ignores.
And it seems from a Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted in February 2012 that the public not only ignores drones attacks, it supports them. Asked if they approve the use of unmanned “drone” aircraft against terrorist suspects overseas, eighty-three percent said yes, including seventy-seven percent who call themselves liberal Democrats. Even more stunning is that seventy-nine percent approved of using drones even if those suspected terrorists are American citizens living in other countries.
The Democracy Now program today (as always) is well worth watching. Go beyond the narrow columns of our daily paper for a broader viewpoint.
Media, represents a segment of America that is appalled by the Presidents and our governments policies. I understand that she has a house near the Capitol. It would benefit the country if the President had a public dialogue with Media on Democracy Now.
My question is how in the hell does she keep getting into these events after all these years. She's been doing this since the 80's. They must know who she is- if they don't then for all their high-tech information gathering they certainly aren't all that good at it.
On the program she wouldn't say how she got in. I suspect some sort of disguise... but regardless, you are probably right that they aren't that good at it. Unless, ... maybe Obama wanted to be confronted. Unlikely, I know.