Yes, we have no pool at the White House

French newspaper Le Figaro has an article on censorship in Google Earth, Maps and NASA World Wind. Despite the slightly breathless title (in English, “Censorship scrambles maps on Google Earth”), the article is quite balanced and accurate, mentioning that updates to Google Earth’s data have replaced censored images with uncensored images (with the exception of the Vice President’s residence.)

One thing it points out, and which I hadn’t noticed before, is that the earliest, censored imagery of the White House (still visible on Google Maps today) didn’t just replace the roof of the White House with beige rectangles — somebody went and photoshopped the pool and the Rose Garden with trees as well. Look:





Now isn’t that special? To me, there is a big difference, in a democracy, between clearly marking an area as censored (for whatever dubious security reason) and actively falsifying information. The latter action is tantamount to lying to one’s own citizens, and is not qualitatively different to KGB efforts to erase out-of-favour figures in photos. If the pool is crucial to national defence, by all means pixelate it, if you really have to. But pretending that the president does not have a pool, and not realizing the difference between censorship and falsification, is creepy.

10 thoughts on “Yes, we have no pool at the White House”

  1. This is Way OUT OF CONTROL!

    Obiviously, the training of modern journalists is sorely lacking when it comes to FACT CHECKING (Or perhaps the Editors are too busy climbing over the fence at NSA?). It should not take more than a couple of minutes on Google or Wikipedia to check this out.

    A) There is NO SWIMMING POOL at the White House. There was an indoor pool, I believe Roosevelt used it for therapy. Nixon had it covered over (or filled) and the space converted to a two lane bowling alley.

    B) One assumes there are Secret Service installations on the roof of the White House. Particulary after that looney-tune crashed his Cessna onto the grounds in 1994. We suggest that since they are probably small, with high resolution imagery one can pretty well position them. This is meaningless info for the average person; for others, it could be useful in planning a terrorist attack. If the powers that be prudently wish to mask their locations this is certainly a non-consiquential trade-off against the right-to-know position. Perhaps we should balance right-to-know with who-gives-a-shit?

  2. It seems likely that what is being obscured is not the pool and tennis courts but the methods of approaching the White House; all the roads and driveways have been devoured by what appears to be a monstrous mass of kudzu-like vegetation that clings to the White House on all sides.

  3. Oh, say it ain’t so. When I read that our alledged democracy lied to me by actively falsifying the fact that the White House had a swimming pool, I had to stoop to one knee and bury my head in my hands as I shed a single tear of rage. Oh, I am so truely devastated. I think I’ll take the rest of the day off if my pseudo-corporate dictatorial overlords will let me… oh, the uncontrollable weeping threatens to electrify me as the tears cascade from my disillusioned face onto this shop-worn, yet somehow bourgeois keyboard. The horror… does mans inhumanity to man know no bounds?

  4. No pool at the White House?

    The writer is wrong on two counts. Yes, FDR had a pool in the West Collande between the Executive Mansion and the West Wing. However, Richard Nixon built what is now the Press Gallery/Room over it. The pool is still intact, it just lays empty, below the Press Room.

    Secondly, yes, there is a swimming pool on the grounds. Everybody knows how much Gerald Ford swam in it (20 minutes a day, twice a day). For whatever reason the Secret Service, or whomever, decided to blank it all out, along with the tennis court and the putting green.

    As for the rooftop…well, anybody with a good view of the roof of the WH can tell you that there are sharp shooters up there.

  5. Unbelievable. Your worried whether he might be lying about a pool.??

    Meanwhile buildings blow up in New York which is blamed on terrorist to gain support for a war we know nothing about and really don’t want.

    Sounds like Hitler when he bombed Berlin and blamed it on his enemies to gain support for a war they didn’t really want.

    Also sounds like Nero when he burned Rome and blamed it on his enemies to gain support for a war they really didn’t want.

    Its an old, old story happening again right in front of us. But lets concentrate on more important things like lying about a pool.

    You people need to catch up.

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