If you’ve been anywhere near the internet in the last couple days, you are probably aware of the recent government surveillance scandals. It started yesterday with the revelation that the government was collecting data from Verizon customers phone calls (all of them). And if that wasn’t Big Brother-y enough for you, news broke this morning about the NSA’s secret PRISM program, which gathers data from the servers a shocking array of the most popular and ubiquitous tech companies: Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and more.
Unsurprisingly, this double-whammy of privacy scandals has prompted a number of unfavorable comparisons between the Obama administration and the Bush administration. As you may recall, the Bush administration came under fire repeatedly for programs – including warrantless wiretapping of suspected terrorists – that were seen as violations of the civil rights of American citizens. These comparisons have run the gamut from articulate and well-thought to… less so (as you might expect from the internet). None, perhaps, is as simple and succinct as the Huffington Post’s front page image from yesterday.
The image, which you can see above, consists of the title “GEORGE W. OBAMA” and a blending of a photo of former President Bush with a photo of President Obama. The image is quite well done, and surprisingly unsettling, as though my brain can’t decide who it thinks I’m looking at.
The president, who has long been reluctant to discuss government surveillance programs, finally spoke out in defense of the two controversial programs today, claiming that the programs were necessary, and that they carried on under the watchful eye of Congress, which he said could stop the programs easily if it felt there were abuses.
How comforting you find that depends, I suppose, on how much you trust Congress.