How Nancy Pelosi Saved the NSA Surveillance ProgramSubmitted by Michaelwiseguy on Fri, 07/26/2013 - 02:26
"The obituary of Rep. Justin Amash's amendment to claw back the sweeping powers of the National Security Agency has largely been written as a victory for the White House and NSA chief Keith Alexander, who lobbied the Hill aggressively in the days and hours ahead of Wednesday's shockingly close vote. But Hill sources say most of the credit for the amendment's defeat goes to someone else: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. It's an odd turn, considering that Pelosi has been, on many occasions, a vocal surveillance critic.
Ahead of the razor-thin 205-217 vote, which would have severely limited the NSA's ability to collect data on Americans' telephone records if passed, Pelosi privately and aggressively lobbied wayward Democrats to torpedo the amendment, a Democratic committee aid with knowledge of the deliberations tells The Cable.
"Pelosi had meetings and made a plea to vote against the amendment and that had a much bigger effect on swing Democratic votes against the amendment than anything Alexander had to say," said the source, keeping in mind concerted White House efforts to influence Congress by Alexander and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. "Had Pelosi not been as forceful as she had been, it's unlikely there would've been more Democrats for the amendment.""
"Pelosi is no stranger to intelligence issues; she was a member of the House's intelligence committee in the aftermath of the September 9/11 attacks. In recent years, she's grown increasingly skeptical of surveillance powers authorized by the PATRIOT Act, which she voted against in 2005 when it was up for reauthorization and again in February. "Well, I didn't vote for the PATRIOT Act the last time it was up," she said today, at her weekly press briefing. "I don't want anybody to misunderstand a vote against the Amash resolution yesterday."
At the briefing, she emphasized her current effort circulating a letter for members to sign expressing concern over how metadata is collected. "The Administration is the custodian of the information. The ownership belongs to the American people," she said. "And we, as their Representatives, have to make decisions about it, we have to know more about it.""