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. Darrell

    As if they don't monitor his snail mail.

    March 23, 2014 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  2. tstorm92

    Love President Carter! One of the best!

    March 23, 2014 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  3. Toneman

    Course you know Mr. Carter that the CIA will merely read your international letter instead.

    March 23, 2014 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  4. tstorm92

    Carter is one of the most common-sense, down to earth presidents this country has ever had.

    March 23, 2014 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  5. ari

    carter's such a self-important hack. no one wants to read your granola recipes, old man.

    March 23, 2014 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  6. Neil Bush

    W and DICK haven't done e-mail in years like you also.

    March 23, 2014 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  7. newsjet

    Yes. Sooner or later senility gets many. Paranoia gets the rest.

    March 23, 2014 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  8. Relictus

    Anyone unconcerned about the NSA looking at your emails should consider that your right to privacy is no less a right than the right to own a gun, or the right to free speech. Anyone here have a door on their bathroom? How about a privacy lock? Yet when it comes to a government agency openly peeping into your emails, people are unconcerned.

    "You don't need privacy if you have nothing to hide" – that's most people's unspoken argument. You may as well say that "You don't need a gun if there is not a burgler in your house". When government policy changes in ways that you don't like, it is too late to wish for the privacy that you all gave away.

    March 23, 2014 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  9. Rick McDaniel

    Correction.......he KNOWS the Democratic Party is monitoring his email, and his phone calls.

    March 23, 2014 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  10. Chris-E...al

    Do dems realy still trust Iran ? Have they forgot the Carter days ? Take a ride back in history and look what Iran did to that dem jimmy carter and us .

    March 23, 2014 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  11. ffd

    once the public doesn't care. and as long as their attention is on other things like stupid tv shows, and things happening in other countries. big bro can do whatever it will. americenz look at other countries and point finger failing to look at themselves.

    March 23, 2014 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  12. Rod C. Venger

    Carter's an idealistic blank. He believes in equal treatment of Israeli's and Muslims. I'd like to ask him this personally, on TV, for all to hear his reply: "Do the Muslims believe in equal treatment of Israeli's? Equal treatment of anyone not a Muslim?"

    His head is in the clouds in some alternate liberal universe that doesn't exist.

    March 23, 2014 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  13. airjackie

    History can't change even if President Carter choosing not to remember. Fact countries have always spied on each other. 1960 FBI and CIA spied on President Kennedy and lawmakers as reported. Carter watched CIA Director George HW Bush complete his orders of spying as Carter appointed Stansfield Turner as his CIA Director. Carter learned he was spied on before he took office and the mission was set two days after Reagan was sworn in office to release the hostages in Iran. Carter forgot he did his spy work with agent Tony Mendez who did the exfiltration of Canadian Caper on Jan. 28, 1980. Carter is just upset Obama does not call him for advice and really you can't blame Obama as Carter wasn't good with Foreign Policy.

    March 23, 2014 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  14. Travler

    If you want to give the NSA a thrill then put bomb, terrorist, hijack, airplane, and anything else that you can think of in your e-mails. The NSA will be so buried in looking at all the crap they might just give up on snooping them. Why are they snooping on honest Americans on our soil? The CIA is doing the same thing the they are expressly forbidden to have any operations within the US borders, yet they are snooping away right along with the rest of them.

    March 23, 2014 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  15. Vijay

    I like Carter a lot... What he says is 100 % correct. He may be worst president for others, not for me... He is far better than Nixon, Ronald Reagan and W. I have high respect on carter...

    March 23, 2014 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  16. susan

    If Carter thinks snail mail is beyond the reach of the NSA, it explains in part how naive a President he was.

    March 23, 2014 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  17. Eardley Ham Woodbury, MN

    If his emails are as sophomoric as his novel, The Hornet's Nest, anyone reading them will fall asleep after the first few paragraphs. A more stultifying, turgid work I have never before tried to read. I gave up when Carter's description of steamy sex between a man and wife read "and then they did things they had never done before."

    C'mon, Jimmy–what things? Oh, well– a poor president and worse novelist.

    March 23, 2014 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  18. Dave

    He thinks the US Postal service is more private than email? BWAHAHAHAHA

    March 23, 2014 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  19. jeff

    Those of you who say that it's ok for the NSA to spy on you because you are "doing nothing wrong" please email me your social security numbers, bank account numbers and credit card numbers because you can TRUST ME.....

    You would trust the government but not me? Come on.... WAKE UP.

    March 23, 2014 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  20. i'malib


    Bush created more Gestapo Laws than Hitler !....from the Patriot Act, to the NSL letters to Homeland Insecurity, TSA, NSA, and the Border Wall and Guantanamo.
    That's right! Bush and his Vice President, Palin, should be impeached immediately. I can't believe they are still in office!

    March 23, 2014 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  21. WMesser58

    The NSA doesn't protect anything it is a blatant abuse of the Constitution G.W. and his war criminals threw out the Constitution as did Cheney when he mysteriously became a fourth level of the government actually saying he's not in the Executive which to my understanding he is not that it mattered because they did what they wanted regardless of the Constitution as is the Obama administration for allowing it to continue.

    March 23, 2014 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  22. drrichard

    Personally I consider Carter to be the last really decent president we've had–apparently honest, including willing to give bad news about America (something the nasty idiot who followed him never would), morally sound (unlike Clinton), not a mindless preppy (Bush I), or a brain damaged warmonger (Bush II), and far more willing to make hands-on decisions that followed through on what he said than the current incumbent (who at least accomplished the 1993 Republican Health Care Plan). It's too bad Carter's push to get off oil was undercut by the big money interests, and according to some very good evidence (such as testimony by the Iranian foreign minister) he was backstabbed by the Reagan people on the hostage issue. The man wasn't perfect, and no president can do everything, but we sure could use somebody like him today.

    March 23, 2014 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  23. Joel

    Uhhhh. Maybe Mr. President it's because you have large quantities of intricate knowledge and Presidential information. I'm just stabbing in the dark with this comment.

    March 23, 2014 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  24. Joel

    Uhhhh. Maybe it's because you have detailed presidential information stored in your brain Mr. Carter/Mr. President.

    March 23, 2014 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  25. Pat Henry

    Carter does a happy dance daily celebrating he's no long the worst president ever.

    March 23, 2014 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
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