George W. Obama is a creepy picture making the rounds online that skillfully melds faces of the past two presidents, but for critics of the Obama administration it has a much deeper meaning.
The picture of George W. Obama ran on the front page of The Huffington Post this week, accompanying an article about The National Security Agency announcing a court order asking Verizon to hand over all phone calling records for a three-month period.
The Verizon action was part of a wide-ranging program of warrantless spying that has continued from the Bush administration through Obama’s two terms, despite the fact that Obama once spoke out against such programs.
“NSA has been doing all this stuff all along, and it’s been all these companies, not just one,” William Binney, who worked at the NSA for close to 40 years, told news program Democracy Now on Thursday. “They’re just continuing the collection of this data on all U.S. citizens.”
The NSA was originally tasked with eavesdropping on communications between countries, but after 9/11 that appears to have expanded, though the agency denies domestic spying.
James Bamford, a journalist and author of several books on the NSA, said the program has only grown under Obama.
“Here we are, under the Obama administration, doing it sort of like the Bush administration on steroids,” he said in an interview with the Associated Press. “This order here is about as broad as it can possibly get, when it comes to focusing on personal communications. There’s no warrant, there’s no suspicion, there’s no probable cause … it sounds like something from East Germany.”
That is where the George W. Obama comparison comes in. While Bush ushered in these policies in the wake of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, Obama spoke out against them.
“That means no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens,” Obama said in 2007. “No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing but protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient.”
The George W. Obama picture is significant not necessarily because of the criticism itself but where it comes from. Both The Huffington Post and The New York Times, which also criticized the president, have been strong Obama backers in the past.