Obama counter-terrorism speech interrupted by heckler

May 23, 2013 at 3:29 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 23 (UPI) -- A heckler interrupted U.S. President Barack Obama Thursday as he called for the shuttering of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

A woman from Code Pink who identified herself as Medea Benjamin shouted down the president as he said the U.S. reputation overseas has been tarnished by the prison, which is held up as proof the United States flouts the rule of law.

"You are the commander in chief. You can close Guantanamo today," the woman shouted, noting the prison had been in operation for 11 years.

"I think ... the voice of that woman is worth paying attention to," Obama said after the woman interrupted him for the third time. "Obviously I do not agree. ... Obviously she was not listening to me. ... But these are tough issues and the suggestion that we gloss over them is wrong."

Earlier, Obama told the woman the right to free speech means she has to listen to what he has to say, too.

"You should let me finish my sentence," Obama said.

"I love my country. I love the rule of law," the woman said before she was escorted out. "Abide by the rule of law. You're a constitutional lawyer."

Guantanamo holds 166 prisoners, most of them seized on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama has suggested transferring them to other countries or sending them to U.S. maximum-security or military prisons.

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