Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was booed on stage yesterday while defending President Obama's actions regarding the NSA's controversial surveillance programs. A grainy video of the incident can be found here.
"People on the far right are saying oh, this is the fourth term of President Bush," Pelosi said at the Netroots Nation conference. "Absolutely, positively not so."
This was followed quickly by shouts from Mac Perkel, a 57-year-old activist from Gilroy, California. "It's not a balance. It's not constitutional! No secret laws!" Others in the room shouted "Leave him alone!" and "That's what a police state looks like right there!" as Perkel was escorted out of the building.
Pelosi attempted to regain control of the chamber, elaborating on what she described as a necessary "balance" between security and privacy, before elaborating on her thoughts regarding the attempted extradition of former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
"I welcome the challenges that people pose," she said, "because I think those questions must be answered. As far as Snowden: he did violate the laws of releasing those documents."
This prompted more boos from the audience, and even a cursory "You suck!"
"I look forward to working with all of you," Pelosi continued. "Now that the public knows more — it gives us an opportunity for some of the things we've been advocating for a while."
Though a little blip, this is an unfortunate representation of the relatively carefree way high-level lawmakers seem to be dealing with the surveillance outcry. The "balance" between liberty and safety — if one still remains — has been tipped, with many lawmakers sitting comfortably where they are, unwilling to seriously engage with 43% of Americans who consider the administration to have gone "too far" in restricting people's liberties to fight terrorism.
Pelosi then criticized the practice of using government contractors for high-level surveillance work, a brief opportunity to reconnect with the audience. "The real problem is outsourcing our national security. When you outsource, you lose a lot of that strength."