House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., broke the cardinal rule of public speaking — know your audience — on Saturday afternoon, and got booed for the effort.
Addressing the Netroots Nation convention in San Jose, Calif., Pelosi said that former government contractor Edward Snowden, who has since fled to Hong Kong, committed a crime by leaking National Security Agency classified information to the Guardian newspaper, according to The Hill.
The Netroots Nation is a political convention for American progressive political activists, originally organized by readers and writers of the far left Daily Kos. Her remarks would have played better at The National Review.
“He did violate the law in terms of releasing those documents,” Pelosi said, earning her a loud chorus of boos. One person shouted out “You suck!” Seema Mehta, political writer for the Los Angeles Times, tweeted the following:
“I understand, I understand, but he did violate the law. And the fact is that, again, we have to have the balance between security and privacy, and we don’t know what sources and methods may have been revealed, which is a tough thing.”
The U.S. is now seeking the extradition of Snowden from Hong Kong after having charged him with espionage and theft of government property in a criminal complaint unsealed in a Virginia federal court.
“I feel sad that this had to come down to this because I know some of you attribute heroic status to that action, but again, you don’t have the responsibility for the security of the U.S.,” she added. “Those of us who do have to strike a different balance.”
Pelosi also asked the convention-goers to refrain from comparing President Obama’s NSA surveillance actions with those of his predecessor, George W. Bush.
“The fact is that you should reject any notion that President Obama’s actions have anything to do with what President Bush was doing or was done,” Pelosi said, adding that there was no Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court under the Bush administration.