It was kind of odd to see the Democratic Party Leadership vote to spy on Americans given the party’s alleged commitment to civil liberties. Now it is reported that not only did the Democratic Leadership vote against the bill but that Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was the driving force behind saving the NSA spying program.
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.
But 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.
The hypocrisy is stunning. Pelosi was a leading voice against the Patriot Act when Bush was in office, now that a Democrat has the power her principles have vanished and she is actively promoting the destruction of the 4th Amendment of the Constitution.
“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.”
With 111 liberal-to-moderate Democrats voting for the amendment alongside 94 Republicans, the vote in no way fell along predictable ideological fault lines. And for a particular breed of Democrat, Pelosi’s overtures proved decisive, multiple sources said.
The Amash Amendment went down 205-217. Pelosi made the difference. She guaranteed more Americans will be subject to unconstitutional surveillance and invasions of their privacy. She was the obstacle.
The Democrats are hoping to take back the House of Representatives in 2014, making Nancy Pelosi Speaker once again. But as she as surely demonstrated, she won’t be much different than the current people in charge when it comes to your rights.