Nancy Pelosi Saved The NSA Surveillance Program; Now She Should Help Kill It

from the okay,-second-chance dept

As we pointed out yesterday, there was a bizarre group of Democratic congressional reps who apparently followed the lead of Nancy Pelosi in voting against the Amash Amendment to defund the NSA program to collect all of your phone data despite the fact that those same Representatives had voted against that very same program a couple years ago. We pointed out that it was clearly Pelosi’s lead that made the others follow — and it was likely that Pelosi was responding to great pressure from the White House. Now ForeignPolicy.com confirms that it was Pelosi’s actions that “saved” the NSA surveillance program, noting that her lobbying was much more effective than NSA boss Keith Alexander’s “private briefing” for Congress.

“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. “Had Pelosi not been as forceful as she had been, it’s unlikely there would’ve been more Democrats for the amendment.”

[….]

“Pelosi had a big effect on more middle-of-the road hawkish Democrats who didn’t want to be identified with a bunch of lefties [voting for the amendment],” said the aide. “As for the Alexander briefings: Did they hurt? No, but that was not the central force, at least among House Democrats. Nancy Pelosi’s political power far outshines that of Keith Alexander’s.”

Of course, the oddity here is that Pelosi has been a vocal critic of these programs in the past. And now that plenty of Pelosi supporters are quite pissed off that she effectively blocked the Amash Amendment, she appears to be trying to jump right back to that critic position:

“Well, I didn’t vote for the PATRIOT Act the last time it was up,” she said today, at her weekly press briefing. “I don’t want anybody to misunderstand a vote against the Amash resolution yesterday.”

At the briefing, she emphasized her current effort circulating a letter for members to sign expressing concern over how metadata is collected.

While the cynical among you can rightly mock this position — of voting to save the NSA spying program and then immediately claiming you’re against it — this could turn out to be a good thing. For whatever it’s worth, the Amash amendment was a blunt instrument and attaching it to an appropriations bill might not have been the best way to go about stopping the NSA surveillance plan. The fact that the amendment was seven votes away from passing suggests that a more careful approach has a much higher likelihood of passing, and it might happen soon. If the Amash Amendment had received very few votes, this would be dead. But with it so close, there’s enough momentum that a followup has a chance.

So, Nancy Pelosi may have saved the NSA spying on Americans yesterday, but now she has the very real ability to kill it. The question is whether or not she’ll follow through.

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Comments on “Nancy Pelosi Saved The NSA Surveillance Program; Now She Should Help Kill It”

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41 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

Well...

Problem is, if they try and pass the Amash amendment, or something like it on it’s own, rather than attached to something that must go through, you can fully expect it to be vetoed and heavy pressure to be brought into play to make sure it doesn’t receive enough votes to bypass the veto.

I really hope they do get an effective bill in play to limit or downright eliminate the NSA’s ‘secret’ powers, but without a ‘must pass’ bill like the DoD funding one to protect it, I don’t exactly put high odds on anything effective making it through intact.

Anonymous Coward says:

A letter expressing concern

? she emphasized her current effort circulating a letter for members to sign expressing concern?

A ?letter? ? ?expressing? ??concern? ?? Iow, Ms Pelosi emphasized making a symbolic gesture over doing something effective.

?

Thinking about it, perhaps that judgement’s a little hasty and not altogether fair: It could be that Ms Pelosi may have had some idea about how Mr Amash’s amendment might fare in the Senate.

Although, I do tend to think that the Senate’s reaction could have been worked out in conference committee.

Anonymous Coward says:

anyone over 60years old should be forced out of office. get some younger blood into Congress (and into industry top positions!)and maybe the USA will actually grow to respect it’s people and the digital age. as it is, the majority of senators etc must have to take a mug of Horlicks when going to bed get help to get out of bed in the morning!!

Alt0 says:

Funding?

The bill did too little in the way of actually hurting the secret court structure the program(s) depend on to operate.
Its not like the NSA couldn’t scrape together funding to just continue what they are doing (selling our metadata possibly?)
It won’t be until the court is dismantled and their rulings rolled back to within the guidelines set forth by the constitution that this “monkey-business” will stop.

ShellMG (profile) says:

Pelosi voted against the amendment because “her president” is in charge. The things she griped about during the Bush Administration are all forgiven under Obama. She couldn’t risk passage in the House and Senate, which would put Obama in a very uncomfortable position.

“Defunding” is a last Hail Mary to stop deployment of bad legislation.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Pelosi voted against the amendment because “her president” is in charge. The things she griped about during the Bush Administration are all forgiven under Obama. She couldn’t risk passage in the House and Senate, which would put Obama in a very uncomfortable position.

While it does seem likely that pressure from the WH had something to do with this, the rest of your statement doesn’t seem right, because she was speaking out against the program in 2011, 2 years after “her president” was in charge…

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

But the kicker is…so was Obama. Obama spoke out against the Patriot Act during his 2008 presidential campaign and even vowed to stop it. Nancy Pelosi’s actions clearly indicate political polarity with “her president”. I think this is about saving face more than it is about pressure. She’s always blindly followed what he’s done.

Mike, I’ve heard rumor of Toledo where there were only 94,000 voters registered there to vote, yet Obama got 196,000 votes for the popular vote there. I think the people with the tin hats might be right about this. This really oddly correlates with the e-voting machine software patches.

bshock says:

How realistic is it to think Pelosi will change?

It seems fairly clear that Ms. Pelosi has no real position on NSA surveillance. The only reason she organized the Democratic effort against it was because the Obama Administration offered her some incentive to do so.

Talk is cheap, and Obama can offer a lot to maintain Pelosi’s support. Unless you can offer her more, she’s going to stay in our megalomaniacal President’s pocket.

kenichi tanaka (profile) says:

So, that bitch Nancy Pelosi is trying to have her cake and eat it too? You cannot vote for the NSA surveillance program and then turn around and jump back on the “I hate this program” shtick.

Just like a liberal, to flip flop … Democrats accuse Republicans of flip flopping but it’s the Democrats who do the actual flip flopping.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Don’t know how this got here instead of up there under wally.

At any rate:

Flip flopping is a silly thing to denounce. Changing your position when the facts on the ground change is a sign of character. The problem isn’t flip flopping it’s duplicity. It’s not that she’s changing her position it’s that she’s lying about why she takes a position at all. It’s really about forming ranks with the president.

Internet Zen Master (profile) says:

Nancy “you’ve got to pass the bill to see what’s in it” Pelosi being a two-faced hypocrite? What else is new? I hope that her constituents remember this next year during the midterms (likelihood of that is next to nil, but one can dream).

[tangent]

…For whatever it’s worth, the Amash amendment was a blunt instrument and attaching it to an appropriations bill might not have been the best way to go about stopping the NSA surveillance plan…

“You don’t say?”[sarc] – said everyone who’s had a security clearance

While we really do need to rein in the NSA (see none of this secret court secretly interpreting the constitution in secret malarkey), we have to remember that the NSA is an intelligence agency that (while completely screwed up in the head) does has the best interests of the US at heart. Forcing the NSA to be 100% transparent in everything it does and showing the world every little tactic is uses to spy on people, foreign or domestic, is a BAD idea. Should the NSA being spying on people? Ideally no, but not having any kind of concealment for their surveillance programs is a naive, idealistic view to have.

Having an organization watching out for terrorists isn’t supposed to be a bad thing. Problem is the whole ‘who watches the watchers?’ thing, which the government has dropped the ball on so badly it’s put a hole in the floor.

It’s no wonder people have such low approval of government these days…[/tangent]

ChipSalsa (profile) says:

Re: Response to: Internet Zen Master on Jul 26th, 2013 @ 10:00am

“we have to remember that the NSA is an intelligence agency that (while completely screwed up in the head) does has the best interests of the US at heart.”

You’re joking, right? The NSA is now a conglomeration of profit-driven corporate interests (over 70% of intelligence expenditures now go to the private sector), who lobby incessantly for a larger share of our taxes. Their mission is now to Collect Everything — this way those in a position of power (Gen. Alexander, for example… or the President) can blackmail ANYONE… if all of our communications are hoovered up, it is no problem (as Snowden pointed out) for an analyst to construct an incriminating profile of ANYONE.

kenichi tanaka (profile) says:

I remember her infamous quote over the health care bill. Not only was the health care reform bill passed illegally but I had always thought that Congress was required to have an actual, hardcopy of each bill before it could be called for a vote.

I’m just shocked that nobody has called Democrats out on that fact. It’s like voting on a budget without seeing what is included in the budget.

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“I’m just shocked that nobody has called Democrats out on that fact. It’s like voting on a budget without seeing what is included in the budget.”

Welcome to seeing what Tea Partiers, Libertarians, Republicans, Moderates, and Independents have been seeing and calling out for the past 5 years and being called ignorant, unintelligent ass swipes for it….She either did her lobbying against PRISM to create a smoke screen, or did this out if blind support for President Obama’s views.

Political polarity on the scale that she performs is truly amazingly sickening. She only operates under the interests of the President and not of her district in California.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Voting Record

Nancy Pelosi voted in favor of the Patriot Act (so did most of the Senate, though), and is probably not happy that she’s being called on to repeal its’ provisions.

She’s not in the Senate. Also, last time around she voted against the extension, so the idea that she would be against repealing some provisions is clearly false.

I’m no fan of Pelosi, but making bogus claims doesn’t help.

Mr. Applegate says:

and the answer is...

“So, Nancy Pelosi may have saved the NSA spying on Americans yesterday, but now she has the very real ability to kill it. The question is whether or not she’ll follow through.”

And the answer is…

NO! She isn’t going to kill it for the exact same reason she voted to kill the Amash amendment. She will do what she is told to do. She will pay lip service to the American citizens, but that is not who she or the vast majority those in political office care to serve. We don’t pay well enough!

Anonymous Coward says:

If her actions show that she’s flip flopping back and forth on illegal NSA spy operations, then we can conclude, from her actions, that she has no official position on the illegal NSA spy operations.

You can learn a lot more about someone by watching their actions, than you can by listening to their words.

Words can be full of lies, but actions rarely are.

Anonymous Coward says:

Ok Nancy...

Time to put up or shut up. If you truly are against it, do better. Let’s see you introduce legislation and rally all those that you can to support it to take on the issue. Let’s see what you come up with. Until then you look like a windbag of hot air. And for the record, voting against the renewal of the Patriot Act when you know going in that there aren’t enough votes with you for it to matter just so you can say that you voted against it doesn’t mean much when you compare it to situation like this one where the vote will actually matter.

Jim (profile) says:

Speculation

This article reinforces my first opinion of the vote on the Amash amendment. The 217 to 205 vote with 12 abstentions is very revealing. The vote was a vote to send a message. The vote is dead even if the abstentions vote in favour or Pelosi and her loyalist vote the way they did in the past. The message to the administration seems clear. Today the House had the votes to kill NSA domestic surveillance. So fix this problem or the next vote will go against the administration.

SeparateChurchandState (profile) says:

UNWARRANTED SURVEILLANCE

Thank you so much Bradley Edward Manning and Edward Joseph Snowden for bringing to the forefront the subjects of personal freedom, individual rights to privacy and individual liberties. I am one who also believes we live in a nation under a constitution that allows people to express their opinions and feelings without the fear of retribution or of becoming a political prisoner. My concern is whether or not a citywide video surveillance camera system exits in the Salt Lake Valley and possibly in the entire state of Utah – the worldwide Headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS/Mormons). The abundance of camera like hardware mounted on the traffic light posts throughout the valley should be of concern to anyone who resides in or visits the predominately Mormon state. The hardware is mounted at the intersections of some major (900 East 5800 South) and not so major intersections (700 East 6600-7200 South). A good sampling of this hardware can be found throughout the valley but especially in the Murray, Fort Union/Midvale, Sandy, and Cottonwood Heights areas (4500 South to 12300 South and State Street, 900 East, 1300 East, etc.). The setup of this hardware ? if it is a camera surveillance system could easily track the whereabouts of a person traveling throughout the valley on a daily basis. The origins of such a system may have begun shortly after 911 when KSL News Anchor (Nadine Wimmer?) announced the KSL Traffic Center retired its Chopper 5 traffic watch helicopter for a ground traffic monitoring camera system. KSL TV/Radio located in Salt Lake City, Utah is owned by Bonneville International, a worldwide LDS/Mormon church communications company. The American public deserves to receive some explanation from the KSL Traffic Center, the Utah Department of Transportation, and the leaders of the LDS church as to the existence, operation, extent, and sophistication of the ground monitoring system and if the system incorporates facial recognition of drivers, GPS tracking of cars, license plate/object recognition, why such a system exits, and why the cameras of a private entity are mounted on public property. The LDS/Mormon church headquarters who has been keeping personal computer records of its millions of church members since as early as the 60-70s is no newcomer to the science of high technology. I welcome anyone who is familiar with the technologies mentioned in this post to visit the Salt Lake Valley and to see for yourself if the Mormon Brotherhood is out of control and is watching you.

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