I believe I was the first person in the "general" press -- and if not, then among the first two or three* -- to notice that the one part of greater Washington DC that was obscured from view in Google Earth was not the CIA headquarters or the Pentagon or the White House itself, but rather... Dick Cheney's house, or as it is more formally called, the Naval Observatory grounds.  Here's how the Vice Presidential compound looked on Google Earth until very recently.

CheneyOld.jpg


Now, as several sources (eg here) have noted, the Vice President's official house is being treated like other sensitive structures in DC -- or Beijing or Moscow or Paris or Tokyo or Baghdad. That is: as worthy of protection on the ground, but not of being airbrushed out of recognition in a fashion worthy of the old Soviet era (or of today's "security theater"). I noticed this last night when checking neighborhood maps in Google Earth. It is by a steady accumulation of these small changes that we'll appreciate how much there is to undo after the past eight years.
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* Maureen Dowd did a widely-cited column on the blurring in December, 2005. Earlier that year, in tech columns for the NYT's business section in April and then again in May, I noted the odd blurriness of Cheney's house. I say this just for the record -- and have moved the mention to a footnote in keeping with footnote-scale significance.

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