House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) drew boos and heckling from members of the crowd at a progressive conference on Saturday while defending President Barack Obama’s administration and the recently-discovered surveillance policies by the National Security Agency (NSA).
About 47 minutes into Pelosi’s speech at Netroots in San Jose, California, a growing commotion can be heard coming from the audience. While moderator and MSNBC contributor Zerlina Maxwell urged the audience to submit questions online instead of shouting, Pelosi continued, saying, “I think it’s really important to subject all of this to the transparent and harshest scrutiny, to say, ‘We want a balance between privacy and security.’”
At that point, a man identified by Politico as 57-year-old Marc Perkel can be heard shouting, “It’s not a balance. It’s not constitutional! No more secret laws!”
Perkel was ejected from the room by security, while other audience members shouted for him to be left alone. Shortly thereafter, loud boos can be heard coming from the audience after she said former NSA contractor Edward Snowden ” did violate the law” in releasing details about NSA programs like PRISM. The government charged Snowden with crimes related to the Espionage Act on Friday.
“I know that some of you attribute heroic status to that action,” she said of Snowden’s leaks to the Guardian and the Washington Post. “But, again, you don’t have the responsibility for the security of the United States. Those of us who do have to strike a different balance.”
Pelosi also defended President Barack Obama against charges that the surveillance of private residents’ phone and internet use constituted a “fourth term” for his predecessor, George W. Bush.
Under the George W. Bush administration, Pelosi explained, there was no court oversight for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), arguing that Democrats were able to institute changes to the Protect America Act of 2007.
“The Bush administration: warrantless,” she said. “Then, when they got caught, they said, ‘The Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence, they should decide if we can go forth with some of this stuff.’ Well, what’s that? They’re practically employess of the President of the United States.”
Watch Pelosi’s speech, posted Saturday by Netroots.