House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has disappointed some of her liberal base with her defense of the Obama administration’s classified surveillance of U.S. residents’ phone and Internet records.
Some of the activists attending the annual Netroots Nation political conference Saturday booed and interrupted the San Francisco Democrat when she commented on the surveillance programs carried out by the National Security Agency and revealed by a former contractor, Edward Snowden, The San Jose Mercury News reports.
The boos came when Pelosi said that Snowden had violated the law and that the government needed to strike a balance between security and privacy.
As she was attempting to argue that Obama’s approach to citizen surveillance was an improvement over the policies under President George W. Bush, an activist, identified by the Mercury News as Mac Perkel of Gilroy, stood up and tried loudly to question her, prompting security guards to escort him out of the convention hall.
“Leave him alone!” audience members shouted. Others yelled “Secrets and lies!,” ”No secret courts!” and “Protect the First Amendment!,” according to the Mercury News.
Perkel told the newspaper that he thinks Pelosi does not fully understand what the NSA is up to.
Several others in the audience walked out in support of Perkel.
“We’re listening to our progressive leaders who are supposed to be on our side of the team saying it’s OK for us to get targeted” for online surveillance, said Jana Thrift of Eugene, Ore. “It’s crazy. I don’t know who Nancy Pelosi really is.”
Netroots Nation is an organizing and training convention for progressive political leaders. Pelosi was Saturday’s keynote speaker at the event, which opened Thursday at the San Jose Convention Center and was scheduled to conclude Sunday.
Her remarks criticizing the Republican majority in the House and encouraging powerful women brought applause, cheers and laughs.