It took me a little longer than I would’ve liked to complete this cartoon, but given the gravity of the news on which it comments, I wanted to take the time to come up with the cleverest, most powerful image I could, and then execute it with an appropriate amount of flair and effort. The one advantage of not being employed in this field, and answering only to my readers and myself, is that I can do that any time the subject matter demands, instead of conforming a massive topic to a short deadline by molding it into the shape of a dated advertising mascot whom I’ve always found extremely irritating.
This is, of course, about the revelation that the NSA has been gobbling up and digesting possibly every piece of information, no matter how personal, communicated by phone or through the Internet since 2007. I’m not sure whether to call this “shocking” or “unsurprising,” and I feel like my inability to choose between two such contradictory terms may be a perversely appropriate metaphor for the mind-warping scale of this story, in itself!
As I said, we’ve more or less known about this specific program since 2007, and anticipated it since the odious USA PATRIOT Act was rushed to George W. Bush’s desk in the panic immediately following September 11th, 2001. Furthermore, it’s well-known and (perhaps grudgingly) tolerated by the public that telecommunications companies can catalogue and sell whatever private customer data they want for profit, as Stephen Colbert noted on his television program earlier this week.
Also, as I discussed only two posts ago, this fits right in with President Obama’s abysmal record on the subject of wiretapping, which we’ve known about since before he was even elected.
And yet, even with all those obvious warning signs, I expect this news still manages to jolt even the most jaded observer–that’s been my reaction, anyway! The idea of a database containing who-knows-how-much personal information communicated by who-knows-how-many people, with no individual or public oversight of its contents, is awe-inspiring, and terrifyingly Orwellian, whether it’s being kept in the name of “fighting terrorism” or “the free market.”
That last paragraph hopefully goes some ways toward explaining the lack of any depictions of Obama or the NSA in my cartoon. I don’t want people to think I’m letting the President off the hook for stuff over which I’ve criticized the previous Administration–I haven’t in the past, and my frequent references to earlier cartoons on this topic should show that I’m not about to start.