House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was booed at Netroots Nation — a progressive conference for bloggers and activists — in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday after stating that Edward Snowden “did violate the law in terms of releasing those documents.”
The California Democrat made the remark during a question-and-answer segment called “Ask the Leader,” in which questions were posed to the former Speaker of the House via Twitter and cards from audience. During her talk, she defended President Obama and the National Security Agency’s surveillance program — and made it clear where she stood on Snowden, who was charged with espionage on Friday.
“As far as Snowden… he did violate the law in terms of releasing those documents,” Pelosi stated, to which many members of crowd gave a resounding boo.
At several intervals during the question-and-answer time, Pelosi was interrupted by audience members who shouted opposing viewpoints. The two most vocal dissenters, yelling that the NSA surveillance programs infringe on the Fourth Amendment, were escorted out of the room.
Pelosi handled the opposition calmly.
“I welcome the challenges that people pose because I think that those questions must be answered,” Pelosi said.
The California Congresswoman spoke of the necessity of striking a balance between privacy and security. She also said the administration had taken steps toward making such proceedings more transparent since Democrats took the majority, including giving FISA courts a greater role in the process.
“People on the far right are saying oh, this is the fourth term of President Bush,” Pelosi stated. “Absolutely, positively not so.”
Pelosi touched on other issues during the session, including the Marriage Equality bill, highlighting the debate taking place over transgender bathrooms, to which the House Minority Leader stated, “Just put a unisex sign on the john and get this thing over with.”
Pelosi was also asked a question about what she thought about the many times House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has cried in public.
“It’s the funniest thing, isn’t it?” Pelosi laughed in response. “Can you just imagine — any woman in the room — can you just imagine in your work place and all the rest, if you burst into tears every time, how you would be mocked or judged?”
Pelosi also spoke of how in 2005 the then-Democratic-held House worked with President Bush to pass the “biggest energy bill in the history of our country,” and the progress and compromise that they made to work with the government. She then criticized — and grossly mischaracterized — the current Republican-held House by claiming it only puts “goofy things” on the floor and doesn’t want to pass anything.
“That’s their agenda because they’re anti-government ideologues… political parties that are at war with their own government, and that’s what they are,” Pelosi said.
In the next breath, Pelosi then condemned Republicans for mischaracterizing the position of Democrats.
The House Minority Leader was the only major member of Congress to speak at the conference in person. Progressive darling Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) could not appear in person this year — though she did give a video message — due to the upcoming special election for U.S. Senate in her state.