Jimmy Carter believes the NSA monitors his e-mails
March 23rd, 2014
01:47 PM ET
8 years ago

Jimmy Carter believes the NSA monitors his e-mails

(CNN) - Former President Jimmy Carter said Sunday he believes the National Security Agency is monitoring his e-mails, so when he wants to communicate with a foreign leader, he sends an old-fashioned letter via snail mail.

Asked by NBC's Andrea Mitchell about the debate surrounding the spy agency and the conflict between privacy and national security, Carter said the surveillance practices have "been extremely liberalized and I think abused by our own intelligence agencies."

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"As a matter of fact, you know, I have felt that my own communications were probably monitored, and when I want to communicate with a foreign leader privately, I type or write the letter myself, put it in the post office and mail it," Carter said.

Regarding the crisis in Ukraine, Carter said there must be a "concerted international" effort to keep Russian President Vladimir Putin from going beyond Crimea.

But, he added, President Barack Obama doesn't ask for his advice on the matter - or any foreign policy issues.

"President Obama doesn't, but previously presidents have called on me," he said, adding that differences over policy in the Middle East may have put distance between the two.

"I think the problem was that - in dealing with the issue of peace in between Israel and Egypt - the Carter Center has taken a very strong and public position of equal treatment between the Palestinians and the Israelis," he said

"And I think this was a sensitive area in which the President didn't want to be involved."

Filed under: Jimmy Carter • NSA • President Obama
soundoff (128 Responses)
  1. YoonYoungJo

    And this is the issue with things such as this. Being able to do things without real justification or a falsified justification. Seriously, isn't this what Putin is doing? Making up a false reason to invade Crimea? I will admit this is one area where I do disagree with some people in congress and senate. You cannot set a precedent that your going to allow or tolerate serious/massive rule/law breaking and then expect people to not break the law. And before people blow it out of proportion, there is a massive difference between breaking the law, by recording and bootlegging one song and someone bootlegging millions of songs and reselling them. Maybe I'm wrong. Perhaps if we just tell Putin, it's ok, it's just Crimea, we don't want to make it an issue he'll decide not to invade any place else.

    March 23, 2014 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  2. Erik

    If an ex president doesn't have his constitutional right to privacy what hope do I have?

    March 23, 2014 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  3. mn

    the first box to check-off for a budding totalitarian state is an abusive state police apparatus, or u could call it kleptocratic -totalitarianism , do u fear your government, do u trust your government

    March 23, 2014 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  4. cynthia

    The control that is seeping into our daily lives is insidious. By the time it starts to effect our daily life it will be too late to do anything about it. The Constitution will be framed as a quaint piece of early American art. I have NEVER been a conspiracy nut or 'sky is falling' person. In fact, I found people who were kind of odd, assuming they were living in basements, etc. Lately, it's just too obvious the intelligence (sic) community is running amok.

    March 23, 2014 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  5. Tampa Tim

    Carter may have been the worst President ever and he hasn't changed. He doesn't understand Muslim militants.
    According to historians, The 10 worst are from 10 to 1: Z Taylor, Hoover, Nixon, Harrison, Grant, Tyler, Fillmore, Pierce, A. Johnson, Harding, and the worst, Buchanan. W Bush is closer to the bottom than Carter.

    March 23, 2014 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  6. YoonYoungJo

    This isn't to knock the good work a lot of the NSA does to keep America safe. The point Im trying to make, is the greater the power one agency has, the more oversight that is necessary. Then again maybe the mantra should be, who cares. It's not happening to me. Oh wait, but when it does happen to you, you'll care. I think that's the big deal with Crimea. It's not just about Crimea, it's the fact the rest of Ukraine could be next, along with other countries. Then if we get bogged down with Russia, who knows maybe N. Korea will decide its time to try something. Then maybe the Middle East, then etc... It won't happen? It couldn't happen? Of course it could happen, that's how we already had two world wars.

    March 23, 2014 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  7. eric g

    he actually DOES UNDERSTAND

    March 23, 2014 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  8. Rogue351

    If you have something to hide, criminal activity then maybe you should be worried. Or, if a specific party uses such powers to track your morals "GOP / Tea Party" you should worry. However if the NSA reads my email or listens to my phone calls in an attempt to protect innocent people against terrorism, who cares. I would bet that in 99% of all cases it is a computer that listened in, not a real person.If or when the power shifts over to a government that is set on controlling peoples moral behavior and uses the NSA to that end that is a problem. I don't see a Democratic government doing such a thing. But with Perry, Ryan, Paul or any of these ultra religious characters in office I can see that being a concern. Over the last 10 years the GOP / Tea Party members have been lead to believe more in conspiracy theories rather than fact. Combined with "faith" / religion this leads to paranoid, mindless morons. Which is exactly what they want in a voter. If in fact you are worried about this I suggest selling your computer and stop advocating for dissolving the traditional mail system so the country can save a few bucks, again the mentality of the GOP / Tea Party.

    March 23, 2014 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  9. chet

    They should!

    March 23, 2014 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  10. behaviorquest

    Any who really believed we didn't have a shadow government that acts outside any control? It has been there for years, the general public are easily mesmerized sheep and they know that.

    March 23, 2014 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  11. behaviorquest

    This is the shadow government or controlling power that has been there for decades. They give the American people the illusion of control when this is all a sham.

    March 23, 2014 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  12. Steve

    President Carter, you are a good man although I believe you are naïve in many ways. As for the snooping, this is what you get when demand more and more government in our lives. Yet when anyone opposes more and more government they are called a bigot, racist, sexist or some other "ist" so there you go progressives. You got it and are still not happy. Why am I not surprised?

    March 23, 2014 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  13. bluesblast

    To Tamp Tim – You are close on your thoughts that Bush belongs on the worst list but VERY wrong about Carter.

    President Carter put solar panels on the White House and pushed energy conservation. He worked to clean up our air and water. He stood up for human rights to the Russians and refused to sell them our grain because of their human rights abuses.

    He was WAY ahead of his time. He got caught up in an Iran crisis, the oil embargo and the monetary fallout from his predecessor which all wrecked the economy. Those incidents would have happened to anyone in the office at the time regardless of their policies. Those made his time in office very troubled but he did not cause them.

    His grain embargo made him unpopular to the farmers and their owners, the big Ag comapnies, orchestrated a tractor march to the white house in protest.

    President Carter had principles and was able to see we needed to get off of our addiction to oil. If our country would have followed through with his ideas we would have cleaner air and water, less/no dependance by now on oil instead of continued drilling, fracking and polluting by energy companies and a better economy becuase of it. He would have been regarded as one of the BEST ever!

    So no, he is NOT on the list of worst at all!

    March 23, 2014 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  14. Zac

    I find it funny how personal freedoms are apparently okay to violate as long as they tell you it's for your own safety. I'll take my chances with terrorism if it will get big brother from constantly looking over my shoulder.

    March 23, 2014 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  15. Al

    They are checking his Peanut deals along with his Billy Beer.

    March 23, 2014 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  16. woodie

    Carter is one of the smartest Presidents we ever had. If he says the NSA is out of control, I believe it.

    March 23, 2014 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  17. Marie MD

    The shrub #43 has to be the worst ever. He sent thousands of Americans to their deaths over WMDs that he knew didn't exist. That is criminal. Oh wait, he is one.

    March 23, 2014 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  18. JCDavis

    "President Barack Obama doesn't ask for [Cater's] advice on the matter – or any foreign policy issues."

    And yet Obama went to the one of the two biggest neocons in this country–Bill Kristol–and asked his advice on foreign policy, and Kristol said you're doing a great job, you're a "born again neocon."

    So what does that tell us about the candidate who ran against the neocons and then became one when he took office?

    March 23, 2014 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  19. DRob

    To the people who say things like "If you have something to hide, criminal activity then maybe you should be worried." making it sound like it's all OK for the NSA to spy... well... Hey if you have nothing to hide I'm sure you don't mind them putting cameras in your house and bathroom right? If you aren't doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to worry about.

    Thing is, it's not that people are worried because they are doing something wrong, it's that it's a horrible violation of privacy for the peering eyes of the NSA to be in our email boxes (or anywhere else) without a warrant which would require you actually be suspected for good reason of doing something bad.

    I'm surprised how many people are willing to give up their freedom and privacy so easily. To quote Ben Franklin "They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

    March 23, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  20. Jef Brown in Jersey

    Carter may have been the worst President ever and he hasn't changed. He doesn't understand Muslim militants.

    The worst attack on American soil wasn't during Carter's tenure. It was under Bush, everyone's favorite idiot.

    March 23, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  21. Creighton Stone

    Recently, Senator Feinstein was a staunch support of covert surveillance until she discovered that the CIA broke into her staff's computer data base and started deleting files they were investigating. In having her privacy violated, she definitely has changed her opinion on covert surveillance. As the old adage goes; "Don't judge another man until you walk a mile in his shoes." While I do believe there are good reasons to engage in covert surveillance, apparently the government has gone way out of line and needs to be better policed.

    On a more humorous note, I recently came across a number of people on-line feeling so violated of the thought of "big brother" invading their privacy that they're studying black magick for the sole purpose of cursing NSA agents that invade their privacy. I guess in the future when we come across people getting covered with warts and turning into toads, we'll know who the NSA agents were.

    March 23, 2014 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  22. liberal disease

    and they found out that you are still dumb and weak

    March 23, 2014 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  23. massms

    If Carter is paranoid, maybe he should stop sending emails. The USPS is still delivering six day a week.

    March 23, 2014 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  24. Brian

    Do democrats really always have to say GOP/Tea Party. Are you that uneducated? The tea party isn't even 1/20th of the GOP and not one sit in the 6 most important seats in the GOP.

    I can't stand modern democrats or republicans these days but it seems Democrats are obviously much less educated and talk about nonsense all day long.

    March 23, 2014 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  25. TLORop

    Paranoia, one of the early symptoms of dementia.

    March 23, 2014 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
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