As Anti-Gitmo Protester Heckles Obama, He Says Her Voice 'Is Worth Listening To'

May 23, 2013 - 2:04 PM

Barack Obama, National Defense University

President Barack Obama at a previous speech at the National Defense University (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - President Barack Obama this afternoon was repeatedly interrupted by a female heckler who shouted at him from the audience, apparently to protest that he was not immediately releasing people from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the U.S. government keeps terrorists, such as 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who have been captured overseas.

At one point Obama said of the anti-Gitmo heckler, who broke into his speech repeatedly over the course of several minutes: "The voice of that woman is worth listening to."

The president was delivering a speech on counter-terrorism policy at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.

The woman began shouting at the president about 48 minutes into a nearly hour long speech, while the president was discussing his desire to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay.

"There is no justification beyond politics for Congress to prevent us from closing a facility that should have never been opened," Obama said.

At that, the heckler shouted out from the audience: "Excuse me, President Obama, you are the commander in chief."

The audience then started clapping in an apparent effort to drown out the woman's voice.

"Let me finish, ma'am," the president said.

She continued shouting.

"So, today, so today, once again---," the president said as the woman continued to shout at him.

She continued shouting at him.

"Today--I am about to address it ma'am, but you've got to let me speak," said the president. "Today, once again---"

She continued shouting at the president about Guantanamo Bay.

"Today--I am about to address it, ma'am--but you got to let me speak--" said the president. "I am about to address it."

She continued shouting.

"Today--I am about to address it ma'am but you have got to let me speak," said the president. "Let me address it."

She continued shouting.

"Let me address it," the president said as she continued shouting at him. "Why don't you let me address it, ma'am."

She continued shouting.

"Why don't you sit down, and I will tell you exactly what I am going to do," said the president.

She continued shouting.

"Thank you, ma'am," said the president to the still shouting president. "Thank you. Thank you. Ma'am thank you. You should let me finish my sentence."

At this point the woman finally fell silent.

"Today, I once again call on Congress to lift the restrictions on detainee transfers from Gitmo," said the president, finally finishing his sentence.

Because of the heckler, the president was delayed for about a minute in completing this one sentence. But the heckler fell silent for only about 45 seconds--then she shouted at the president again. When she shouted yet again, several seconds after that, the president engaged her again.

"Ma'am, let me finish. Let me finish" said the president. "Let me finish, ma'am. Now, this is part of free speech, is you be able to speak, but also you listening, and me being able to speak. All right."

At this the audience applauded.

After about a minute, Obama made a laudatory statement about the heckler. "I am willing to cut the young lady who interrupted me some slack, because it is worth being passionate about [closing Gitmo]," Obama said.

A short time later, the heckler interrupted him again, challenging the president on a drone strike that killed not only al Qaeda terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki, but also his 16 year-old son.

Eventually, Obama said: "I am going off script as you might expect here. The voice of that women is worth paying attention to."