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Obama speaks. Three key questions remain unanswered

Obama gave a major policy speech this week, principally addressing the question of the war on terror, drones and Gitmo.    It will be recalled that an outburst by a woman as Obama spoke (see post) attracted almost as much attention as the speech itself.   As this piece on truthdig points out Obama avoided 3 key issues in his speech.

"In the midst of his carefully scripted counterterrorism address Thursday at National Defense University in Washington, D.C., President Obama encountered an unexpected speed bump in the form of Medea Benjamin, the highly animated 60-year-old co-founder of anti-war group Code Pink whose track record for crashing high-profile political events and heckling speakers has earned her the reputation of being the country’s most disruptive protester.

As Obama shifted the focus of his wide-ranging remarks from drone attacks to the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, attempting to craft a new and more transparent legal framework for the war on terror and promising an ultimate end to it, Benjamin shouted, “You are commander in chief. You can close Guantanamo today!”

Obama tried to quiet Benjamin, but she persisted, demanding to know with regard to the use of drones if the president valued Muslim lives as much as American ones, and if he would apologize to “the thousands of Muslims that you have killed?” Finally, Benjamin was escorted from the auditorium by a security detail, yelling as she left, “Abide by the rule of law. You’re a constitutional lawyer.”

Although the major media thus far have treated Benjamin’s antics as an amusing sideshow, the questions she raised about the legal basis for the administration’s policies are anything but funny or anywhere close to being resolved. Indeed, far from succeeding as a reassuring second-term milestone, the president’s speech left at least three core issues in the war on terror entirely unsettled"


As for that female interjector?   It was Media Benjamin, of CODEPINK.    She writes exclusively for CommonDreams in "Why I Spoke Out at Obama's Foreign Policy Speech":

"When the President was coming to the end of this speech, he started talking about Guantanamo. As he has done in the past, he stated his desire to close the prison, but blamed Congress. That’s when I felt compelled to speak out. With the men in Guantanamo on hunger strike, being brutally forced fed and bereft of all hope, I couldn’t let the President continue to act as if he were some helpless official at the mercy of Congress.

“Excuse me, Mr. President,” I said, “but you’re the Commander-in-Chief. You could close Guantanamo tomorrow and release the 86 prisoners who have been cleared for release.” We went on to have quite an exchange.

While I have received a deluge of support, there are others, including journalists, who have called me “rude.” But terrorizing villages with Hellfire missiles that vaporize innocent people is rude. Violating the sovereignty of nations like Pakistan is rude. Keeping 86 prisoners in Guantanamo long after they have been cleared for release is rude. Shoving feeding tubes down prisoners' throats instead of giving them justice is certainly rude."


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