A vocal supporter of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Cusack is also part of the board of the Freedom of the Press Foundation.
MINNEAPOLIS — As part of the publicity tour for his new film “Love & Mercy,” actor John Cusack spoke out against Barack Obama’s record on civil liberties and human rights. While Obama was a Hollywood darling during his first campaign, Cusack is one of several celebrities to criticize the president in recent days.
In an interview with the Daily Beast, published on Thursday, Marlow Stern asked Cusack about Obama’s record, in light of a poll showing that the president’s approval rating is now below that of President George W. Bush. Cusack responded:
“Obama has certainly extended and hardened the cement on a lot of Bush’s post-9/11 Terror Inc. policies, so he’s very similar to Bush in every way that way. … [W]hen you talk about drones, the American Empire, the NSA, civil liberties, attacks on journalism and whistleblowers, he’s as bad or worse than Bush. He hasn’t started as many wars, but he’s extended the ones we had, and I don’t even think Dick Cheney or Richard Nixon would say the president has the right to unilaterally decide whom he can kill around the world.”
This isn’t the first time Cusack has objected to Obama’s policies. As a contributor to the Huffington Post, Cusack penned essays supporting Edward Snowden and opposing the global “War on Terror.” Cusack sits on the board of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, which is dedicated to defending free speech and “public-interest journalism.” He also appeared in a video about NSA surveillance called “Stop Watching Us,” created by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit which defends civil liberties in the digital world.
However, Cusack’s recent Daily Beast interview did acknowledge that Obama’s “domestic policy is a bit different” from Bush’s, and, on Twitter, he objected to what he called a “manipulative” focus by the publication on his use of the phrase “worse than Bush.”
Celebrities for whistleblowers and against war
Cusack’s new statements came on the heels of a GQ interview with Vince Vaughn in which the actor called Edward Snowden “a hero.” He explained:
“I like what he did. My idea of treason is that you sell secrets to the enemy. He gave information to the American people. Snowden didn’t take information for money or dogmas. Governments claim to write endless laws to protect us, a law for this, a law for that, but are they working? I don’t think so. The consequences are that there is a staggering loss of freedom for the individual.”
Obama’s treatment of Snowden inspired objections from a host of celebrities who normally support Democratic Party policies, ranging from Jay Leno to Michael Moore, who declared the whistleblower his “Hero of the Year” in 2013.
Russell Brand, the British celebrity-turned revolutionary advocate, has also spoken against Obama on several occasions.
“I watched Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech [from 2009] the other day. And I thought, how did people ever believe in this guy? How did people ever think that this was going to result in anything? How did people ever sustain their disbelief for long enough to vote?” he told Vanity Fair in October.
Even Shepard Fairey, the creator of the famous Obama “Hope” poster that Brand mentions in the video above, now sees Obama as a disappointment, telling Esquire’s Matt Patches:
“[T]here have been a lot of things that he’s compromised on that I never would have expected. I mean, drones and domestic spying are the last things I would have thought [he’d support].”