Need a Counter-Intelligence Op? Maybe Hire Medea Benjamin

You may have heard this by now, but the hyper-secured venue of the president’s big counter-terrorism speech today at the National Defense University was penetrated by a very familiar character, per this report from Politico‘s Jennifer Epstein:

President Obama’s major counterterrorism speech was going well, his delivery smooth and strong on Thursday afternoon.

Then, with a shout from Medea Benjamin, a member of Code Pink, the whole thing got a bit bumpier. As he spoke about wanting to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and mentioned being limited by Congress, Benjamin interrupted.

“Excuse me, President Obama, you are commander in chief … it’s you, sir,” she shouted. As she continued, shouting about the hunger strikers there, Obama tried to keep speaking.

He got through a few more lines of his speech before Benjamin interrupted again. He spoke over her, “This is part of free speech, is you being able to speak, but also me being able to speak and you listening,” he said.

Moments later, Obama added: “I’m willing to cut the young lady who interrupted me some slack because it’s worth being passionate about.”

Finally, after Benjamin again shouted, this time about Americans killed by drone strikes, including the 16-year-old son of Anwar al-Awlaki, security officers started guiding her out of the hall.

“Abide by the rule of law, you’re a constitutional lawyer,” she said as she was guided up steps out of the auditorium….

Benjamin is a frequent presence at national security speeches and hearings, and the White House seemed caught unaware of her attendance. A photographer who waited in line near Benjamin saw her wearing a bright green press pass like those handed out to the rest of the media at the event, “Susan Benjamin” — her given name — written in ink.

I doubt she’d be interested in the gig, but sure looks like Benjamin would be a worthy applicant for a counter-intelligence gig of her own. She sure knows how to spot holes in a security system.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.