Massimo Calabresi reports in Time that the deal “has drawn attacks from both sides of the political spectrum. The right is unhappy at concessions made to protect civil liberties; the left is furious that the Democrats allowed the domestic spying powers to be extended in any form.” I haven’t heard much unhappiness being expressed from righties.
Letting the PAA expire was a risk — the Administration pilloried Democrats for being soft on terrorism. But Pelosi successfully parlayed it into specific improvements. For example, under Administration proposals, the telecoms would have received full retroactive immunity from lawsuits brought by civil libertarians alleging they violated the fourth amendment by complying with Administration requests to conduct wiretaps following 9/11. In negotiations with Pelosi’s office, the telecoms offered a compromise: Let a judge decide if the letters they received from the Administration asking for their help show that the government was really after terrorist suspects and not innocent Americans.
Pelosi’s negotiators felt that was a significant concession.
If that’s what they want to tell themselves, fine. It sure looks like they got rolled.