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. David Zapata

    This was a 4th amendment violation. He is a hero and should be comended for stepping forward when our own president failed to live up to his campaign promises of shutting these kinds of programs down.

    June 23, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  2. Yash

    So now Pelosi needs to be told that we "the people" are not only responsible for security of the US but also for electing those who do this for us – if they do not see it like we do, they need to be replaced. Sad to see her forget democracy 101. Power doese corrupt even the better ones although not quite like Cheney/Rumsfeld and good-for-nothing republicans who will criticize Obama even for doing things scarily republican.

    June 23, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  3. Porky Rottenham

    Pelosi is a moderate, always has been.

    June 23, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  4. Andrewmag166

    Pelosi what about all the illegal immigrants that violate the law, I guess that's ok which laws suit you?

    June 23, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  5. Randall

    I am curious to see how all the right wing trolls will react to this. Pelosi is saying exactly what they would say.

    June 23, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  6. betty

    The people just do not understand what actions are needed to protect this country in this day and age. Their ignorance and outrage are not unexpected.

    June 23, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  7. Niclas

    if you realy wanted to protect yourselves then ban guns, limit driving either of these cause multiple times more deaths per month than the "terrorist" has done in the last 10 years collectivly.

    while at it ban smoking, sugar rich products and all other sources of percived danger, turn off the brain because there is no need to think when you are being told.

    If someone and i mean anyone thinks big blanket information gatherings are ok without reason then you can join the clueless monkies in the 1984 cage.

    June 23, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  8. martiniano

    Your time is ended Nancy. Thank you for most of your years of service. Like President Cheney, uh, I mean Obama (who I voted for twice) you are vastly out of contact with Progressives like me. Dems are starting to look like Cheney Republicans.

    June 23, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  9. Dave Rogers

    I can't believe folks booed Pelosi for something. Hasn't she always gotten a free pass for being better than "the other side"?

    Are we to believe the government has lost control of its citizens? That doesn't seem likely.

    June 23, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  10. rc8888

    Interesting.....we were intercepting and collecting both foreign and domestic intelligence from many different sources when I was affiliated with the NSA over 50 years ago (1960-63). Surprise!! Our defectors back in those days were 2 guys named Martin and Mitchell (if my memory is correct). I'm not sure if they were ever captured and returned to the US for prosecution, but they sure caused a lot of trouble. It was always difficult because of the horrible criticism received from the very people we were trying to protect.

    June 23, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  11. Natch

    Tough call on this one! If you disagree with the Progressives, that means you agree with Grandma Nancy, and vice versa! It's a Catch-22!!

    June 23, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  12. Zing

    The whole point of secrecy is completely self contradictory.

    If they say what Snowden did damaged national security because now terrorists will not use emails and phones, are they going to dismantle the NSA programs? No, they are still supporting the existence of these programs despite the leak. So if the NSA programs work even when it goes public, then why did they keep it a secret in the first place.

    Why some liberals and conservatives are against this is not because of the spying, but because of the secrecy. NSA should of came public with this stuff and the fact that I am hearing it from some leaker is what ticks me off. If what the NSA is doing cannot stand up to public scrutiny, they shouldn't be doing it. Knowing that their programs may receive criticism, yet carrying it out in secrecy to prevent public knowledge is completely against the ideology of a democratic nation. Obama say it's "Transparent", but does "Transparent" mean ANYTHING when 99% of Americans don't even know what a FISA court is?!

    June 23, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  13. nik green

    Pelosi has already proved herself a shill for creeping totalitarianism....just like Feinstein.

    June 23, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  14. rc8888

    Randall, do you have a special need to disrespect people who have a different point of view than you?

    June 23, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  15. Josef F

    She's right. He is a criminal. So were the colonists who fought in the Revolutionary War.

    June 23, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  16. plain&simple

    When someone is right....they are right!!! Labels don't apply. Only what is right. She is right and good for her to say it in the lion's den!!!

    June 23, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  17. SatelliteSteve

    Of course he's a hero. He came forward with information that shows our government would rather sit on it's ass and not pass a budget, start wars they should be tried a war criminals from rushing in for the "camera time" killing innocent people with no Intel of WMD's. Cheney gets rich with his affiliates branched off of Halliburton and our sons and daughters either get killed or the VA doesn't have the money to help them out when they get home. Oh this is a great country GWBush. What was the Patriot Act supposed to do? Stop Boston? Stop Kids killed in the school? Promote bipartisan votes in Congress?

    June 23, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  18. NameTodd A

    Hehehehelol, the miss vote yes then read it wacko bood by her own people, hey libtards I use to be a Clinton Democrat now since you through Hillary under the bus for Mohammed the liar, I'm 1000% Tea Party and I think Snowden is a hero, Rand Paul President 2016

    June 23, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  19. zandhcats

    I'm not a supporter of Pelosi,but she is right by pointing out that they held the responsibility for the national security, not the crowd. If we have another attack,ask yourself,who will take the blame?

    June 23, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  20. lottie

    she is right he broke the law. Get over it. people who live in la la land think he is great. That's why he is doing his world tour in all the countries that honor human rights. Right? Pelosi really scares right wing men . Regardless of your politics she is a force and has worked hard for women.

    June 23, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  21. NameTodd A

    Hahahahahahehehehehelol, when they boo Obama, they've seen the light, god hater, freeloader, baby killer, fruit loop progressives,hehehelol boooooo, hilarious lol lol lol

    June 23, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  22. Mopery

    When our government passes draconian laws which violate our most fundamental rights, it is every citizen's obligation to disobey them. When the highest levels of power become corrupted, it is the duty of the citizens to revolt.

    June 23, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  23. Jason

    The only reason Pilosi cares is it made Obama look bad. I think Snowden will become a folk hero when the house of cards falls.

    June 23, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  24. Jeff

    "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." When is Nancy Pelosi going to step up to that responsibility?

    June 23, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  25. Robert

    "No progress can be done if the country's security is shaky or not there. I hope progressives understand this."

    To the writer of this line, please, condescend to someone else.

    A government that gives itself absolute authority to track every one of its citizens, issues warrants for a hundred million phone logs at a time, approves them by a secret court that never refused - listens to actual calls without a warrant at all, lies under oath repeatedly to committees that fully approve of being lied to, burglarizes American homes, infiltrates American protest meetings, imprisons American journalists (oh yes, this really is happening - see about Barrett Brown)... this makes you feel safe? You would have loved East Germany.

    You cannot consider yourself a progressive and support this surveillance state. On this topic I would prefer the first libertarian loon I met on the street to any "fellow progressive" who apologizes for it.

    June 23, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
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