From 9/11 to PRISM: A Nation Gone Dotty


John Cassidy in The New Yorker:

Here’s one of the things I want to know about the government’s electronic-spying programs, which evidently give it the power to find out intimate details about virtually anybody. Who designed the spooky red-and-black logo for the National Security Agency’s Prism program? My colleague Amy Davidson correctly points out that it owes something to Storm Thorgerson’s album cover for Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon,” a ponderous recording that back in the nineteen-seventies drove me and many others to punk rock. But it’s also reminiscent of the logos featured in the cinematic version of “1984,” featuring John Hurt and Richard Burton, which came out in 1984. In the film, for example, the logo for IngSoc, the all-powerful ruling party of Oceania, the dystopian land of the future, is a red-and-black capital “V.”

Was the Prism designer, whose identity is doubtless classified, a “prog rock” fan, or did he or she share Orwell’s wry sense of humor? When you are dealing with this intelligence stuff, you certainly need an example of the latter, or you will go a bit batty. Take me. Only a few weeks ago, I praised President Obama for publicly questioningthe basis of the ongoing “war on terror.” At the time, a couple of commenters suggested I’d been duped, that it was all just fine-sounding rhetoric, but I was willing to take the President at his word. Big mistake. As the editorial board of the Timespoints out, Obama and his Administration have lost all credibility on the issue of domestic surveillance, which is an integral part of the war on terror.

It’s come to something when Rand Paul—he of the Tea Party membership, goblin-like father, and nutty conspiracy theories about the Federal Reserve—is the hero of the hour, but we have reached that point.