While at the Department of Justice, the Obama administration tacitly revealed it was continuing a Bush administration practice that has nothing to do with surveillance: covering the half-naked Spirit of Justice statue.
The Bush administration received widespread criticism in 2002 when the Justice Department hid the statue of a naked Lady Justice behind curtains during speeches and other events. Even as department officials explained the curtains were used to improve the Great Hall’s backdrop for televised events, critics derided then-attorney general John Ashcroft for the decision.
Yet, on Friday morning, reporters covering the president’s speech on the overhaul of the National Security Agency’s data collection took note that the statue was hidden once again:
Statue of half-naked Minnie hidden behind blue curtain on stage where Obama will soon speak. #DOJ
— Sari Horwitz (@SariHorwitz) January 17, 2014
The U.S. Justice Department's Great Hall, ready for Obama. (The nude statue is hidden today.)
— David Ingram (@David_Ingram) January 17, 2014
In 2005, Ashcroft’s successor Alberto Gonzales decided to remove to curtains, making the statue visible during public events. The Obama administration today reversed that practice.