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Protesters pay to be at fundraiser, then nail Obama with pointed song

It may have been the highest-priced protest in history.

Protesters disrupted an early morning, big-ticket fundraiser for President Obama at a San Francisco hotel Thursday, serenading the president with a song about Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of passing classified information to the website WikiLeaks.

Obama was in the midst of delivering his remarks to the crowd of about 200 supporters when Oakland, Calif., activist Naomi Pitcairn stood up from a table and declared that she and her companions at the table had written a song for the president.

Brushing off his suggestion to wait, the 10 people seated at the table burst into a refrain that lamented the Pentagon's detention of Manning, described as abuse by human rights advocates.

The song also touched on the cost of a ticket to the president's fundraiser, and on the Rev. Terry Jones, who recently burned a copy of the Quran, sparking a deadly reaction in Afghanistan.

"Each of us brought you $5,000. It takes a lot of [$100 bills] to run a campaign. I paid my dues. Where's our change?" they sang.

The group held up small signs that read "Free Bradley Manning."

Obama appeared somewhat displeased, as did House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who also was in attendance.

But the president ultimately seemed to take the disruption in stride.

Pitcairn, who told reporters that she paid the $76,000 for the group at her table to attend the breakfast event, soon was escorted from the ballroom by the Secret Service.

Two other attendees at the table left on their own. The rest of the singers remained.

Tickets for the event ranged from $5,000 to $35,800.

"That was a nice song," Obama said when the protest was over. "Now where was I?"

Aides later said that Obama found the interruption "funny."

Manning, a former Army intelligence specialist in Iraq, has been charged with 34 counts, including aiding the enemy, connected to allegations that he funneled sensitive information about U.S. military operations and diplomatic communiques to WikiLeaks.

Pentagon officials transferred Manning from the Marine brig at Quantico, Va., to a medium-security facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., Wednesday after complaints from his attorneys and human rights groups about his treatment.

At Quantico, Manning had been confined to his cell for 23 hours a day, was manacled when he was moved, and was forced to stand naked for inspections. At Fort Leavenworth, he's expected to receive more freedom in his daily activities as he awaits a preliminary hearing that will determine whether he will face a court-martial.

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