“How Nancy Pelosi Saved the NSA Surveillance Program”

How Nancy Pelosi Saved the NSA Surveillance Program” — that’s the headline of a must-read piece from Foreign Policy in the aftermath of the near-passage of the Amash-Conyers amendment that would have severely curtailed NSA spying.

I can’t quote it all, but I hope these tastes will send you over there (my emphases):

The obituary of Rep. Justin Amash’s amendment to claw back the sweeping powers of the National Security Agency has largely been written as a victory for the White House and NSA chief Keith Alexander, who lobbied the Hill aggressively in the days and hours ahead of Wednesday’s shockingly close vote. But Hill sources say most of the credit for the amendment’s defeat goes to someone else: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. It’s an odd turn, considering that Pelosi has been, on many occasions, a vocal surveillance critic.

PelosiBut ahead of the razor-thin 205-217 vote, which would have severely limited the NSA’s ability to collect data on Americans’ telephone records if passed, Pelosi privately and aggressively lobbied wayward Democrats to torpedo the amendment, a Democratic committee aid with knowledge of the deliberations tells The Cable.

Pelosi had meetings and made a plea to vote against the amendment and that had a much bigger effect on swing Democratic votes against the amendment than anything Alexander had to say,” said the source, keeping in mind concerted White House efforts to influence Congress by Alexander and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.” … [F]or a particular breed of Democrat, Pelosi’s overtures proved decisive, multiple sources said.

The story has multiple other aspects though. One is her earlier opposition to the surveillance programs. Another is a letter to the president expressing concerns raised by the amendment. Another is her history as a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Despite it’s lead (above), the piece tries to paint her well, as a reasonable and skeptical critic of surveillance. Maybe so; but then there’s this:

But despite the minority leader’s instrumental role in swaying the vote, you won’t find her taking credit: She’s busy protecting her left flank from liberal supporters of Amash’s amendment — some of whom openly booed her at last month’s Netroots Nation  conference where she defended President Obama’s NSA surveillance program.

I think in an article this damning, if I were Foreign Policy, I’d spread out the paint — or the covering fog — as well. Is that what they’re doing here? Dunno. But feel free to draw your own conclusions; I’ve already drawn mine.

As I said, a must-read.


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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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