In a major national-security address on Thursday afternoon, President Obama reaffirmed his first-term promise to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba. Saying that Gitmo has become “a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law,” he vowed to close the detention center and extend the privileges of that rule to all prisoners. He reminded the audience that U.S. courts had prosecuted terrorists and incarcerated them in American prisons. He did not, however, address the problem of extending American law to the non-citizens detained there.
Pushing back against Republican resistance to the closure of Guantanamo, President Obama said, “There is no justification beyond politics for Congress to prevent us from closing a facility that should have never been opened.”
Just after these remarks, the president’s speech was interrupted by a heckler who called on the president to “abide by the rule of law,” objecting to drone strikes on Americans and citing the hunger strike recently conducted by a number of Guantanamo prisoners. After being quieted by the president, the heckler, who was from the anti-war group Code Pink, interrupted the address once again before being removed from the room.
“It’s worth listening to what she [the heckler] said,” Obama told the audience when he continued with his speech. “I’m willing to cut the young lady who interrupted me some slack, because it’s worth being passionate about.”