Medea Benjamin and the politics of disruption.

Author:Conniff, Ruth
Position:Interview
 
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CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin stopped by The Progressive's offices recently, just as Congress was getting ready to override President Obama's veto of the law allowing the families of 9/11 victims to sue the government of Saudi Arabia.

Benjamin, a leader of the U.S. peace movement, was on a tour to promote her new book, Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection, which she describes as a primer covering "everything you wanted to know about Saudi Arabia but were afraid to ask for fear you'd get your head cut off." Benjamin's petite, pink-clad person has be come a familiar sight in the halls of Congress, at hearings, press conferences, presidential speeches, and many other high-profile events she somehow manages to crash.

She interrupted President Obama's major foreign policy address on the War on Terror at the National Defense University in 2013, prompting a grudging acknowledgment from the President, as Benjamin was being hauled away, that she had something important to say. She and her CODEPINK sisters disrupted both major party conventions this summer. She made the news when she heckled Donald Trump during his speech accepting the Republican nomination.

Benjamin has been one of the chief critics of the United States military's use of drones, has organized peace delegations to Gaza, Iraq, and Iran, and been arrested and deported from Pakistan and Bahrain. How, I asked her, did she find the time to write a book?

"I just realized how we have no movement that focuses on one of the biggest foreign policy problems we have, which is our relationship with Saudi Arabia," Benjamin says. "We the American people have allowed our government to continue this cozy relationship with one of the worst governments in the world. Here we are saying were fighting terrorism--well, were selling weapons to the terrorist state of Saudi Arabia."

Since the book came out in September, Benjamin has been speaking on university campuses, in mosques, and to peace groups around the United States. She sees a growing left/right coalition coming together to criticize the U.S. governments relationship with Saudi Arabia.

People across the political spectrum recognize that "we still don't have the information we deserve about the Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attacks," Benjamin says--including information obtained through U.S. government investigations the public has not yet seen. "And the best way to get that information out is through lawsuits."

Saudi Arabia...

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