Skip to main content

"The fact is, you should reject any notion that President Obama's action have anything to do with what President Bush was doing...

"We protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. That's our oath of office, so we have that responsibility."
- House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, to the Netroots Nation conference, Saturday, June 22, 2013

Politicians have a way of talking, when they think they know more than we do about what's good for our country. They treat us like we are petulant and impulsive children and they have to be the stern parent, explaining they are doing what they are doing because they know. They get it and we don't. "When you're the parent," they seem to be saying, "you can make the rules. In the meantime, this is my house and you will do what I say."

Hours after Politico published Emily Schultheis' article, about the lack of anti-Obama sentiment at Netroots Nation, the annual progressive conclave in San Jose, California, this weekend, a ruckus erupted over the NSA revelations that have been in the news lately. And the group's vehemence was aimed at the highest ranking politician to attend the conference, House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

Nancy Pelosi at Netroots Nation 2013 photo Pelosi-netroots2013-sm_zps2ff25785.jpg
House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
explainsthe role of government to a challenging
Netroots Nation crowd (PBG June 22, 2013)

Writer, blogger and sometime TV pundit, Zerlina Maxwell, who was given the unenviable challenge of interviewing Ms. Pelosi, Saturday afternoon, eventually got to a question about Edward Snowden's release of documents related to the government's snooping operations. Boos and heckles cascaded across the convention hall, as the minority leader defended the legality of the NSA's data mining operation, and its intrusions into the world's email and internet activity, while decrying any comparison to similar activities under Bush and Cheney. She even brought charts explaining the differences, which she tweeted.

"No more secret courts! No more secret laws," shouted attendee Marc Perkel, a 57 year-old Californian. As the crowd applauded and cheered his audaciousness, some joining in the chants, security personnel were summoned and he was removed from the hall. "It was wrong when Cheney did it, and it's wrong now," he yelled, as they marched him out.

The shouting inside did not stop, however. When Leader Pelosi was asked for her response to the news that Snowden had been charged with three felonies, under the Espionage Act, she defended the Department of Justice's criminal complaint. "In terms of Snowden," she said, "I may be in disagreement with you. He did violate the law, in terms of releasing those documents." At that point, Pelosi was assailed with another rolling chorus of boos.

She did, however, get some applause while discussing Snowden, but it wasn't any kind of acknowledgement of her own actions that brought the appreciative claps. It was, instead, her acknowledgement of the sentiment of many in the crowd, that brought a kind of anti-applause from the audience, when she said, "I know there are some of you who attribute heroic status to that action." Then, over the applause, she admonished, "But you don't have the responsibility for the security of the United States."

And it's not just the civil libertarians of the progressive movement who aren't pleased with DoJ's action. The ACLU, Saturday, sent out an email to supporters, where it insisted "whistleblowers like Snowden play a fundamental role in our democracy," and called PRISM and the other information gathering techniques the government uses, a "massive abuse of government power, that he [Snowden] risked his safety to expose."

"As Americans," the ACLU says in its attached letter to the president, "we are tired of seeing liberty sacrificed on the altar of security and having a handful of lawmakers decide what we should and should not know."

For civil libertarians and progressive activists, this entire incident is a bright, red line. Raising our voices in defense of people who are standing up for what is right for America is a moral imperative. It can be no other way.

Whether or not one believes Edward Snowden is a hero, he is someone who cares about what he believes is right, in defense of our Constitution. That's not a conversation we should just be having now. The privacy vs. security question is the conversation our government leaders should have been having every day, since 9/11.

Think of it like the Iraqi invasion, except this time, instead of the media being silent as bad things were done in our name, it is our elected officials and the pollyannic, institutional monsters they create, who remained silent when they should have been questioning. Maybe now, they will finally start. Let's make sure they know we're listening.

-PBG

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site