When the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted a court-authorized raid of the office of Congressman Bill Jefferson, Nancy Pelosi said:
The Justice Department was wrong to seize records from Congressman Jefferson’s office in violation of the Constitutional principle of Separation of Powers, the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution, and the practice of the last 219 years. These constitutional principles were not designed by the Founding Fathers to place anyone above the law. Rather, they were designed to protect the Congress and the American people from abuses of power, and those principles deserve to be vigorously defended.
Accordingly, the Justice Department must immediately return the papers it unconstitutionally seized…
In addition, the Justice Department must immediately cease any further review of the documents it unconstitutionally seized, ensure that those who have reviewed the documents do not divulge their contents to the investigators, and move in Court to vitiate the search warrant.
With that as background, her reaction to news that the NSA was secretly wiretapping the phone of a Member of Congress is curious – to say the least:
“A few years ago, [the NSA] did brief me that a member [was being recorded]… when a member of Congress is included in a wiretap… the leadership is informed and that happened at that time,” Pelosi told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor lunch this morning.
Asked if she had concerns Harman has been bugged, the speaker replied: “I was not in a position to raise it with Jane Harman … It was up to the administration… When you are briefed on something, it isn’t your opinion to share with somebody else — even if I wanted to share it with her.”
So according to the Speaker, the NSA informed her that they had wiretapped Representative Harman’s phone, but they did not tell her what they heard. It seems that they provided little or no explanation about the wiretap either. And to hear Pelosi tell it, she wasn’t even curious enough to ask follow-up questions – let alone to go public, threaten a lawsuit, or use the issue as a club to bash the big brother mentality of the Bush administration. She basically dismissed the information without discussing it with anyone. And here’s the kicker: she did so out of deference to the Bush administration.
I recognize that Pelosi has never liked Jane Harman, and it might incline her to be less concerned with protecting Harman. But are we to believe that Pelosi really worried more about eavesdropping on terrorists than on Members of Congress?