Calling Snowden a criminal, Pelosi booed by progressives
June 23rd, 2013
08:45 AM ET
5 years ago

Calling Snowden a criminal, Pelosi booed by progressives

(CNN) – Rep. Nancy Pelosi's description of NSA leaker Edward Snowden as a criminal drew harsh reaction from liberals gathered at a conference in California on Saturday.

Speaking at Netroots Nation in San Jose, the House Democratic leader said Snowden "did violate the law in terms of releasing those documents," prompting loud boos and heckling from the crowd.

The U.S. government charged Snowden with violating the Espionage Act for his disclosure of top-secret NSA surveillance programs, which allow the federal government to monitor phone calls and Internet usage. Some Americans - including liberals who typically support President Barack Obama's agenda - have characterized those methods as unconstitutional.

Pelosi, responding to the boos, said she understood the anger, but maintained that Snowden violated the law.

Earlier, the California Democrat suggested more transparency in government intelligence programs would be welcome, though she added that elected officials responsible for national security hold a different view of the situation from average citizens.

"I know that some of you attribute heroic status to that action," she said, referring to Snowden's leaks. "But, again, you don't have the responsibility for the security of the United States. Those of us who do have to strike a difference balance."

Filed under: Nancy Pelosi • NSA
soundoff (147 Responses)
  1. Dave

    When we discuss responsibility for the security of the United States, we must remember that we need to be secure against external forces and our own government.

    June 23, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  2. George W

    "You don't have the responsibility for the security of the United States"? I thought after 9/11 we were all called to action to defend the "homeland".

    June 23, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  3. Ed

    I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt at first but his recent actions force me to conclude that he is anti- American. Going to China, Russia, Cuba, and Venezuela (all communist countries) one concludes that he is a a spy; there are other neutral countries that he could have gone to but didn't.

    June 23, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  4. Evergreen

    This country said it would never forget Sept. 11, 2001 and the lessons we learned that day. Unfortunanetly, there are individuals and groups that are looking for ways to attack the American people and do as much harm as possible. The security of the nation is the number one function of the government. If they can keep me and my love ones from being blown to pieces I don't mind them collecting whatever data they need.

    June 23, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  5. sisi

    Who even listens to anything this nut cake says???

    June 23, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  6. Scott

    The government wants to control your life. Fear the military-industrial complex because they are a bunch of vampires.

    June 23, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  7. Jmk

    Edward Snowden is a traitor in the same manner that the signers of the Declaration of Independence were traitors. The signers knew that there was a high probability of being hanged if caught by the British; they moved forward anyway. In this case the Edward Snowden is the Patriot and Rep. Nancy Pelosi is a Tories.

    June 23, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  8. chris

    As much as I dislike Pelosi, technically she's right – he did violate the law. Should they throw the book at him? Absolutely not; the secret spy program he blew the whistle on is by far the greater evil here.

    June 23, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  9. Zoom

    Funny that Pelosi would say the objectives of intelligence officials and ordinary citizens necessarily differ. When the Second Amendment was written, all able-bodied males over the age of 21 were members of the militia. The militia was to defend us from our own government becoming tyrannical, not to defend us from an external threat.

    June 23, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  10. freddymav

    "But, again, you don't have the responsibility for the security of the United States. Those of us who do have to strike a difference balance."

    In other words, "you little people are too dumb to know what's going on. Be quiet, and let us monitor your every move, for your own good of course!"

    June 23, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  11. Eardley Ham Woodbury, MN

    Ms. Pelosi,

    I, as a citizen of the United States, have as one of my responsibilities, the responsibility to defend this country against those who would do it harm.

    That includes not only those from without but also those from within, to wit, the paranoid federal agencies such as the TSA, the FBI, the CIA and NSA. Oh, yes, you, your paranoid congressional compatriots and the executive also.

    June 23, 2013 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  12. freddymav

    ut, again, you don't have the responsibility for the security of the United States. Those of us who do have to strike a difference balance."

    In other words "You little people are too dumb to understand what's going on. Shut up and let us monitor your every move, for your own good, of course!"

    June 23, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  13. Steve B

    Funny that progressives are seeing the face of tyranny. Liberty is a universal right, forget it at your own cost.. Nancy has always stood on top of the people.. telling us what we need to do. Hopefully the people of CA will remember this when she comes up for election..

    June 23, 2013 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  14. blakenaustin

    I find it interesting that the far left is turning on its own. Obama and Pelosi. It appears they are imploding. A failed and morally backrupt ideology.

    June 23, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  15. Ron L

    As a realistic INDEPENDENT voter, sometimes the so called progressive/liberals sicken me as much as the extreme right wing of the Republican party. Snowden is not a HERO, he is not a TRAITOR, what he is in a young idealistic person WHO BROKE THE LAW !!! Because he broke the law, it DOES NOT MATTER whether he "felt" it was it was the right thing to do, or that he needed to do....HE BROKE THE LAW!!! He MUST be brought back a face the repercussions of his actions including serving time if found guilty. Every one needs to get a grip, and realize most of your Representatives KNEW this was going on, or if they didn't it was because they did not care to pursue getting the information. Certain amounts of privacy HAS TO BE given up to improve security. One other thing, people who are defending Mr. Snowden need to think about the fact he goes to CHINA and claims America is illegally spying on its people?? What a joke...and this morning they did just what I expected, GOT HIM OUT OF THEIR COUNTRY, they could not afford to have even a small speck of his idealism stay in their country.

    June 23, 2013 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  16. blakenaustin

    I find it interesting that the far left is turning on their own - Obama and Pelosi. And their darling, Hillary Clinton, is a compulsive liar with no accomplishments worth mentioning. They are imploding. A failed and morally bankrupt ideology.

    June 23, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  17. Marie MD

    @Dave, if you mean the rethugs who are trying, from the state level up, to control women's, gays, children, veterans', seniors' rights, then yes, you are correct.
    We also have our own home grown terrorists like McVeigh and the unibomber and abortion clinic bombers that need to be stopped. Not just foreign terrorists.

    June 23, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  18. mikeh3775

    "No one should get a free pass to violate the basic civil liberties of the American people – Not the President of the United States, and not the telecommunication companies that fell in line with his warrantless surveillance program. We have to make clear the lines that cannot be crossed"
    Senator Barrack Obama, Jan 2008

    June 23, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  19. Jeff Kelly

    The entire United States of America "boooos" Nancy Pelosi.

    June 23, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  20. mikeh3775

    Also, what is the US Govt so scared of, that they will not let these companies release real information on how much they have grabbed? This reminds me of the scandal under Bush where they fought for years to release info on something, and then they suddenly did and it was such a low number(IIRC it was none) that it was laughable.

    This is exactly why we need to get new elected officials into DC ASAP, but sadly unless you are a millionaire, you can't run for any office in DC.

    June 23, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  21. Buck

    Bourgeois liberals/conservatives own you. Your minds are totally controlled. They have been stuffed into their mold, and you will do as you are told, until the rights to you are sold.

    June 23, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  22. Dynamic Ifiction

    Yeah – we notice your view is that anything you can get away with is fine with you. Thanks so much for being in charge of the security and the revenues of the USA. Just do whatever you want to do because you're so special, you great, responsible buffoons who justify your every criminal act by claiming "special knowledge". You're all so full of "special" something, but I would hardly call it "knowledge", more like the stuff that comes out of the rear ends of horses.

    June 23, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  23. j williamson

    When will people fully realize that there is virtually no difference between the Republicans and Democrats? It's all one big party now and their public arguments are simply an act to deceive the masses. Behind the scenes they drink and laugh together like two lawyers (who earlier in the day) went after each other's throats to justify (to their clients) their huge and outrageous fees.

    June 23, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  24. Keeping Them Honest

    Ms. Pelosi, I have always respected you, please do not be a pawn for the Obama Administration – they are wrong here. I say thank you to Assange for standing up for Snowden, who is a hero and who has done the right thing...maybe not in the perfect way, but he is in the moral right here and the the US Government is not. Moreover, the Government should not think that people are so stupid as to 'buy the "espionage" charges. They are only meant to garner blind support from clueless patriotic Americans. Well Americans in the information age just are not that clueless anymore guys.
    The bottom line is that whether you are a Democrat or Republican, the Government is corrupt with power and needs to be changed by the people. I strongly agree with one commentator that stated that many of us, including myself, voted for Obama to end the Patriot act, the waging of wars and the veil of secrecy that defined Cheney's reign. What I see now is worse....I am disappointed and angry at Obama's administration. The administration had a chance to make a change and they blew it horribly. The IRS scandal is absolutely inexusable. Obama should stop blocking the investigations of these issues and appoint an independent counsel. Obama knows his own Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, Neal Wolin(who the IRS reports too) was the leader of massive reserve/financial fraud while he was General Counsel at the Hartford and that Wolin targeted whistleblowers at the Hartford much like he did with the Teaparty while overseeing the IRS.

    June 23, 2013 09:57 am at 9:57 am |

    Anybody in their right mind would boo Pelosi...

    June 23, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
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