President Obama stepped to the podium today to outline his policy on counter-terrorism in a long and rambling speech that focused on the use of drones and the Guantanamo facility.  The distraction of a CODE PINK protestor seemed to be more interesting than the speech itself.

The president’s speech was odd in its timing, after the administration conspicuously released Thursday the revelation that four Americans have been killed in drone strikes since 2009.  While Obama defended the use of drones in today’s speech, he also contrasted that defense, adding that he would work with Congress to further scrutinize the use of drone attacks.

And yet as our fight enters a new phase, America’s legitimate claim of self-defense cannot be the end of the discussion,” Obama said in his address. “To say a military tactic is legal, or even effective, is not to say it is wise or moral in every instance.

And only one day after the grisly slaying of a soldier in London that officials have said was likely an ideologically motivated terrorist attack, the President took extra care in stating that the US is not in a ‘boundless global war on terror.’

Beyond Afghanistan, we must define our effort not as a boundless ‘global war on terror’ – but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America.

In reviewing the speech in its entirety, it was a confusing series of statements that in large part seemed to contrast the realities of some of the administration’s actions to date.

But why the sudden speech on drones and Guantanamo to begin with?  Three words.


The current list of scandals has kept even the media focused on the issues coming out of the Obama administration of late.  The IRS targeting conservatives, the DoJ going after journalists for doing their jobs, and the ever changing narrative on the Benghazi talking points.

But the highlight of the president’s speech today actually came instead this time in the form of a well-known heckler.

Medea Benjamin of CODE PINK repeatedly interrupted the president, at times seemingly throwing him off.  Journalists who witnessed Benjamin standing in line to enter the event beforehand tweeted that they had recognized her, yet, as always, she was allowed in by security.


Before she was finally escorted out, Benjamin got in a few choice words for Obama on his counter-terrorism policies.

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? Can you stop the signature snipes that are killing people on the basis of suspicious activity? Will you apologize to the thousands of Muslims that you have killed?  Will you compensate the innocent family victims? That will make us safer.

Benjamin’s points actually seemed to help further Obama’s narrative to some extent, rather than fully rebut it.

But if not for the CODE PINK appearance, I’m not sure that Obama’s speech would have been all that engaging to very many.


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