“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.


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

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

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59 Responses to ““How Nancy Pelosi Saved the NSA Surveillance Program””

  1. Jeffrey Gee says:

    Disgusting and illegal under the 4th Amendment.

  2. BloggerDave says:

    How’s that Chained CPI fight going?

  3. Butch1 says:

    Yep, a liberal, she is not! She has never been for the common man and I just wish her district would wake up. What are they feeding them? I wish she would retire or someone could expose her for the lying hypocrite she really is.

  4. Bill_Perdue says:

    If you were talking about the middle class I’d agree wholeheartedly but events at Madison and the growth of the union left and OWS conclusively prove you wrong. Workers are self organizing unions at Wal-Mart and other big box outlets and in fast food corporations.



    Please provide some scientific evidence that American workers, who are the only group that counts, are “complacent, submissive and, for the most part, lazy”.

  5. ezpz says:

    “…if everyone keeps thinking this way, then we certainly don’t have a chance to make any kind of changes.”

    How right you are!
    This was the light bulb that finally went off in my head.

    The last election marked the first time that I didn’t vote for either of the two parties. (Used to vote straight D ticket – never republican.) It felt so good to vote for Jill Stein and others who were not of the two one party system.

    And now that I have finally seen the light, I find myself having little tolerance for those who are still in denial. All I can do is just point out the obvious to those who are still walking around with blindfolds on, as I myself did for too long.

  6. ezpz says:


  7. htfd says:

    Very believable. Good old Nancy Pelosi in 2006 saved GWB for being Impeached by taking it off the table the day she became House Speaker. Nancy also cover up for Bush/Cheney torture program. She had prior knowledge of it’s existence and then it’s implementation. Now everybody sit back and watch while MoveOn gets her re-elected…MoveOn just love the lesser of two evil people.

  8. karmanot says:

    Becca, check out the documentary, ‘I Am.’—- Netflicks.

  9. Ford Prefect says:

    The polling is shifting on that, so while it’s probably fair to say “submissive,” I think “complacent” is becoming obsolete. Thanks to Snowden, people are starting to realize they’re being violated. I’m not comfortable trying to predict how things are going to go out in the world. Congress and the executive branch are far more predictable and in a bad way.

  10. BeccaM says:

    No, but our citizens are complacent, submissive and, for the most part, lazy.

  11. BeccaM says:

    I think we know the answer to that one, Butch.

  12. Ford Prefect says:

    And the FISA “court” is being stacked by none other than Chief Supreme Roberts, so you know they’re all stalwart defenders of the constitution as interpreted by the Federalist Society.

  13. perljammer says:

    Hmm, I don’t know about that “no left flank” business. If you move far enough to the right, your left flank is the only flank you have.

  14. Butch1 says:

    This woman needs to be replaced as minority leader of the house. She wants to slash Social Security just like this president as well. Just which side is she on? The 1% or the 99% of the people?

  15. Ford Prefect says:

    Yeah, he’s a liar. That’s why the entire executive branch, congress, hi-tech companies and the corporate media are all freaking out at the fact everyone now knows what they’ve been up to: violating the constitution as if it never existed.

  16. karmanot says:

    Indeed MF, indeed.

  17. karmanot says:

    BS is not proof. Don’t hold your breath, condew is too bust waving flags and outrage to concentrate on facts.

  18. karmanot says:

    Of course, to you, Snowden is a liar, because you want to believe what he says——-ad nauseaum. etc. You don’t know what the fuck I think about Snowden, smart ass.

  19. karmanot says:

    In fact, I would state it in stronger terms, reviewing Badgerite’s comments over time I come to the conclusion the Badge supports the police state and collaborates with forces weakening the Constitution. My guess is we have someone invested in the police state.

  20. karmanot says:

    Same, and anyone who thinks voting in a democracy for anyone is a wasted vote is not a true American. I still believe Ralph Nader was right and history will hold him high in comparison to the political midgets of his time.

  21. karmanot says:

    Yep, all citizens are foreigners now

  22. Zorba says:

    Well, give me my leprosy bells, because I’m there. ;-)


  23. karmanot says:

    Waves snark flag, feels better

  24. Zorba says:

    Thank you, ezpz. I agree. That is why I have been voting Green Party for years. It’s not that I think that they are perfect, but they are a whole hell of a lot closer to what I believe in than the current Democrats, and I long ago got sick and tired of voting for “the lesser of two evils.”
    I realize that many people believe the opposite, and believe that third parties do not have a chance in this country, so that I am wasting my vote. But my response is, if everyone keeps thinking this way, then we certainly don’t have a chance to make any kind of changes.

  25. samizdat says:

    I don’t look at Snowden so much as I look at his work. And what he did was good work. I frankly don’t give a damn about the government of these United States, as they no longer represent my interests, or the interests of my fellow citizens and human beings. Whatever makes Drone-bama (and Bush, et al) look foolish, cravenly, or in any other way reveals the true nature of those who have betrayed the ideals and laws of our country, I do welcome it.

  26. Zorba says:

    Yes, indeed. Some of us, as Becca noted, were awakened to Pelosi’s co-option as soon as she said “impeachment is off the table.”
    She is one of the very many Democrats who are not Democrats, at least according to my meaning of the word.
    As I have been maintaining for years, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party left me.”

  27. ezpz says:

    And of the thousands of requests, not one has been turned down.
    Actually, IIRC, I think one, and one only was turned down.

  28. ezpz says:

    Just until the next election, and then it will be lesser evilism once again.

  29. ezpz says:

    And what is the source for this nice little piece of propaganda?
    Are you sure it’s not American drones, cruise missiles, and cluster bombs responsible for the carnage you mention?
    With sources now afraid to give information to journalists, and journalists intimidated by the O regime, anyone can now print any lie — as long as it supports the US’s sorry excuse for surveillance in the name of ‘national security’.

  30. lynchie says:

    How do you know he is a liar. Proof please

  31. lynchie says:

    FISA is a one sided oversight. No one represents the people being spied upon. Just as the cosmetic surveillance of the dorks at the airport is to make us feel they are preventing something. You are wrong and if you don’t care great but I and many on the left don’t like the lack of privacy the constitution guarantees us.

  32. lynchie says:

    Fine do all the surveillance you want on foreigners. But to perform a blanket catch on Americans is not constitutional.

  33. condew says:

    Of coarse, to you, Snowden is not a liar, because you want to believe what he says. In fact, Snowden lied his ass off, or he was to dim to properly interpret what he stole.

  34. condew says:

    Foreign surveillance is what NSA exists to do.

  35. cole3244 says:

    and that is a lonely place to be in todays climate.

  36. karmanot says:

    Has been for years.

  37. karmanot says:

    Pelosi and DiFi—-two peas in a blue dog pod.

  38. karmanot says:

    In America, the true patriots are left of center.

  39. TheAngryFag says:

    She’s a tool

  40. karmanot says:

    You nailed her perfectly: A duplicitous liar——perfectly in sync with Obozo.

  41. karmanot says:

    I’m glad that people on the progress left are waking up to Pelosi.

  42. Bill_Perdue says:

    There are large numbers of people in the union left and OWS vets who have all the energy we’ll to lead thing when people begin to move. The left is reunifying and growing.

    The 2000 election only concerned Democrats and Republicans. The differences between what Clinton was doing and what Gore would have done and Bush did do were minor.

    Democrats and Republicans will both be on the outside when the radicalization deepens.

  43. Indigo says:

    Theoretically no, but we’re out of energy. It’s just talk.

  44. Bill_Perdue says:

    We’re not exempt.

  45. Indigo says:

    In the States, silly.

  46. Monoceros Forth says:

    Which has what, exactly, to do with the activities of the NSA?

  47. Badgerite says:

    By the way, Huffington Post has a story today detailing the recent ( since April ) bombing campaign that Al Qaeda is engaged in in Iraq. 3000 killed there by bombing attacks just since April. But who needs security. Clearly, these people are just harmless.

  48. Bill_Perdue says:

    You’ll just have to tell that to the







    South African miners





  49. BeccaM says:

    Others may have been more astute than me on this, but I realized she’d been completely coopted by the authoritarian oligarchy the day she said investigations into the Bush Administration torture and war crimes and impeachment hearings were ‘off the table.’

    A brighter moral line was never drawn before, nor so cravenly excused.

  50. Indigo says:

    True, but that country is more correctly spelled Amerika.

  51. Indigo says:

    The uprising did not happen when the Supreme Court handed the White House to Bush 2. There is no further uprising on the scope.

  52. Indigo says:

    What a Quisling! As far as I’m concerned, Miss Nancy has no “left flank” to protect. She is, to cash in on an Anglo-ism, “not one of us.”

  53. BeccaM says:

    …if you are left of center authoritarian-supporting conservative-right

    There, fixed it for ya

  54. Badgerite says:

    This amendment did not deal with the “NSA Program”. It dealt with only one aspect of it and that is the bulk collection of phone records kept by the phone companies for billing purposes which show who you called and when you called them. That particular information (known as pen registries) is not even within the protections of the 4th Amendment (see Smith v Maryland in which the court ruled that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy that attaches to phone billing records, which is what these are and how they are originally collected and held by the phone company). Additionally, the NSA program, according to Shane Harris’s book, The Watchers, has origins going back to the the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks of a peace keeping force stationed in Lebanon back during the days of the raging civil war there. It is a way of assessing communications data so as to filter out the irrelevant noise and try to pick out of clues of terrorist activity and intent before actual violence occurs. Irrelevant noise being most of the communications in the world. It is a program that has evolved over time and at one time, specifically during the Bush years, was kept completely outside the oversight of the FISA Court. So one could have had problems with the program in the past that one does not have now, since laws were enacted to bring this program within the oversight provided by FISA, without NECESSARILY being disingenuous or hypocritical.

  55. Ford Prefect says:

    With respect to torture and mass surveillance, she’s been lying all along. She lied for years, claiming to not know about torture until the Bush administration outed her–something which Democrats were only too happy to overlook. She lied about her knowledge of mass surveillance as well. She was read into the worst programs by virtue of her title and she privately supported those programs, while pretending to be “critical” or even denying knowledge altogether.

    Today, her duplicity is less strident, writing a pathetic letter to the WH while voting against the Amash amendment. Of course, one reason why she’s so cocky about all this are polls, like the recent Pew, that show 57% of Democrats actively support the Police State and oppose the Bill of Rights. With numbers like those, there’s no reason to think someone like Pelosi can be pressured.

  56. cole3244 says:

    in america you are considered a leper if you are left of center.

  57. Mocas Dad says:

    Not the first time Pelosi’s been awful, and won’t be the last. Could be worse, I guess…Steny Hoyer.

  58. Bill_Perdue says:

    Democrats in Congress and the WH (and their Republican cousins) are building a national security state in preparation for the time, not too far off, when people rise up and challenge their right to rule as we did in 1775 and 1860.

    In 2006 most Americans disapproved “A USA Today/Gallup poll conducted Friday and Saturday shows that by a 51% to 43% margin, Americans disapprove of the federal government’s program to
    compile billions of telephone records…

    By this year that margin increased, “More Americans disapprove (53%) than approve (37%) of the federal government agency program that as part of its efforts to investigate terrorism obtained records from U.S. telephone and Internet companies to “compile telephone call logs and Internet communications.”


    With NDAA and Obama’s self assumed and self proclaimed right to murder US citizens the federal government’s security state has passed over to out and out criminality.

  59. Monoceros Forth says:

    Isn’t it great to see our Democratic congressional leaders succeeding in the teeth of determined political opposition? Imagine what other legislative achievements this bold spirit could accomplish!

    …oh, God, it hurts.

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