This is fairly impressive. Some members of the "Restore the 4th" effort who organized the widespread
protests on July 4th against NSA surveillance decided to hold something of a sit-in protest
at the office of Rep. Gregory Meeks in New York, since he voted against the Amash amendment. Protests like that happen every so often, but what almost never
happens is for elected officials to delay their flight
and spend some time actually debating with the protesters. But that's exactly what happened
, as you can see in the video below:
Meeks enters the room a few minutes in, and then there's a mostly respectful discussion. Meeks starts out by repeating many of the NSA's standard talking points defending the program. The protesters focus in on the key question, as to whether or not Meeks believes that the FISA court order that allows for the collection of records on every single phone call meets the standard in the 4th Amendment to make it constitutional. He resists answering the question repeatedly, before finally saying that he believes that based on the court's interpretation
, it is constitutional, but makes sure to distinguish that from his own opinion. Following that, the protesters point out that it's difficult to just "trust" the government when the public's been kept in the dark so long, which leads Meeks to claim that he is supportive of making the program more transparent. At the very end (right as the video cuts off), Meeks claims that he's taken an oath to protect the American people -- and a protester points out that's false, that his oath is to protect the Constitution. Incredibly, Meeks disagrees, but his final point is cut off as the video ends. Meeks is simply wrong on this point. The oath is to protect the Constitution.
Either way, just the fact that Meeks would meet with protesters is fairly incredible, and the fact that he'd delay his flight to do so is even more unheard of. It basically doesn't happen. Doing so makes it pretty clear that the public outcry against this surveillance is really having an impact.