Code Pink protester Medea Benjamin got herself inside the National Defense University in Washington on Thursday for President Obama's big speech about drones, even though she's been a famous heckler in Washington for a decade. Indeed, she's been seen and heard at many big political events over the last year: at CIA chief John Brennan's confirmation hearing, the NRA's Wayne LaPierre's press conference, the Republican National Convention. As Financial Times reporter Anna Fifield tweeted, "amazing how Medea Benjamin of @codepink gets in to all these speeches. every reporter in Washington recognises her, but security never does." So how does she do it? By using her old name — plus maybe a little help from middle-aged woman invisibility syndrome. At Obama's speech, Politico's Jennifer Epstein reports, "A photographer who waited in line near Benjamin saw her wearing a bright green press pass like those handed out to the rest of the media at the event, the name 'Susan Benjamin' written in ink." Benjamin used the same trick to get press credentials from a Senate office for a swearing-in ceremony a couple years ago, a Senate source tells The Atlantic Wire.
Susan Benjamin was her name until she changed it as a freshman in college. At right is her 1970 yearbook photo. But it can't just be that Susan is a common name. It has to help that, when she's not screaming about human rights violations, Benjamin looks like an unthreatening middle-aged woman.