Who Is Medea Benjamin, and Why Is She So Good at Heckling Public Officials?

National Journal

Medea Benjamin heckles. A lot. Not only did she interrupt the president during his speech on national security issues Thursday, she has also abruptly stopped the speeches of Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, and the confirmation hearing of CIA administrator John Brennan. If there's an Occupy rally or a Republican convention, she'll probably be there, to speak out on antiwar issues.

Today, while being "escorted" by security out of the building, she shouted these questions, to which the president actually stopped talking to listen: "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?" TheHuffington Post was there and recorded video:

"I'm willing to cut that young lady interrupting me some slack, because it's worth being passionate about," Obama said.

Medea Benjamin does not lack passion. Here's what to know about her: 

In 2002, she cofounded CODEPINK: Women for Peace, which is strongly against war and gun proliferation. The group is known for its high-profile actions, such as staging a four-month long vigil in front of the White House, heckling George W. Bush's second Inaugural Address, staging a "sit-in" in Nancy Pelosi's office, and attempting a citizen's arrest of Karl Rove.

Benjamin was born Susie Benjamin, but changed her name to Medea during her freshman year at Tufts University. The name is a reference to a character in Greek mythology best known for killing her children.

She ran for the California Senate in 2000 on the Green Party ticket.

She writes often for the Huffington Post.

She makes a great photobomb (see below).

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Medea Benjamin of CodePink, center, holds up signs behind Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, left, as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 15, 2011, before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the situation in Afghanistan. (AP Photo)

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Tighe Barry, left, pours oil on Medea Benjamin, center, outside BP headquarters in Houston Monday, May 24, 2010, during a staged protest against the catastrophic oil spill off the coast of Louisiana. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

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Medea Benjamin, left, holds up signs and a cut out of Goldman Sachs Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein, as Michael Swenson, Managing Director of Structured Products Group Trading, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 27, 2010, before the Senate Investigations subcommittee hearing on Wall Street investment banks and the financial crisis. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

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With members of the protest group Code Pink behind her, including co-founder Medea Benjamin, second from right, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 12, 2008, before the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs subcommittee hearing on the State Department's fiscal 2009 budget. (AP Photos/Susan Walsh)

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Activist Medea Benjamin, of Code Pink, is led away by security as she protests during a statement by National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, left, during a news conference in response to the Connecticut school shooting on Friday, Dec. 21, 2012 in Washington. The nation's largest gun-rights lobby is calling for armed police officers to be posted in every American school to stop the next killer "waiting in the wings." (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

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CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin, right and other CODEPINK protestors, a group opposed to U.S. militarism, disrupt the start of the Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing for John Brennan, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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CODEPINK founder Medea Benjamin is surrounded by security as she shouts at President Barack Obama during his speech on national security, Thursday, May 23, 2013, at the National Defense University at Fort McNair in Washington. She was removed from the auditorium. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

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