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. Tryingnot2laught

    I am not sure why the NSA would read Jimmy Carter emails. After all they would only take the time and resources to read email's of someone that is actual important. I would hate to tell Jimmy C that the NSA would have methods to also intercept and read letters sent by snail mail also. It would appear that someone feels like they need to be in the limelight again. Maybe AL Gore will come out of whatever hole he dug himself and declare global cooling is upon us when he needs another hundred million. It might be best for liberals to blame Bush since that is all they know.. -Liberals live in a fair tale world that conservatives paid for in blood and taxes.

    March 23, 2014 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  2. Joe M.

    Thanks for the input, 2nd worst President ever.

    March 23, 2014 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Despite what his detractors may say Carter is a very wise man and smart man.

    March 23, 2014 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  4. Scarface86

    Tampa Tim
    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.

    What historians? I did not know they all got together and came up with an answer to that question. You are funny.

    March 23, 2014 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  5. KEVIN

    The NSA has always been a warehouse of info. The NSA is frequently used by our political and military leaders to accumulate dirt on each other as extortion ammunition

    March 23, 2014 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  6. S. B. Stein

    If Obama asked for Carter's advice, the GOP and the conservatives would call for impeachment and challenge all decisions that Obama would make after that.

    March 23, 2014 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  7. Chuck

    Don't worry Mr Carter, Obama has far surpassed you as the worst US president in History

    March 23, 2014 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  8. mctiredofit

    Jimmy shouldn't worry. No one is spying on him any more than the rest of us. Someone commented Jimmy is the worst president ever. I disagree, I was an adult during his term so I remember him well.
    obama has easily taken Jimmy's worst president title. The obama (including michelle) have done nothing but weaken the USA in their futherance of heir personal interest.

    March 23, 2014 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  9. IdiotsAreEverywhere

    @Tampa Tim

    You know of know historians (except some made up ones on MSNBC) who rate Presidents like that. I have been alive through 11 Presidents and not one, NOT ONE, dragged the country into an abyss more than Carter. Obama comes close and before you start saying I am Tea partier, etc. I voted for Obama in 2008. I thought he really would change the country for the better.

    He's weak, ineffective and most importantly, he doesn't have the courage to work with people. He only cuts people down who doesn't agree with him – not a good idea for someone who has very poorly thought out, weak ideas to start with.

    March 23, 2014 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  10. Joe

    I think Carter stunk at foreign policy and that is why Obama didn't ask his advice. I know a family from Iran and they lived during the time when Carter messed Iran up. Iran was fine before Carter had to meddle I their affairs. Granted, it wasn't the best but it isn't as bad as today. What is up with this site messing up keystrokes? I can't type.

    March 23, 2014 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  11. akismet-26c5e6af3d417ad78c59de728e53cb1c

    NSA = Numbskull Society of America. They ignore specific laws that prohibit them from spying on Americans, have hood-winked a "Secret Court" into granting them political cover to spy on all Americans, and even when caught red-handed these "judges" continue to rubber stamp their agenda instead of having the head of this Nazi organization sitting in a federal prison for willful perjury and ending this program, they are held hostage because maybe the NSA has dirt on the highest levels of government that were they to be "leaked" that even the cover that the thoroughly cowed media cannot sweep away because it will still get out, whether it's a guy like Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck or someone else who will stand up and say "You want a piece of me? I'M RIGHT HERE!" We cannot continue to allow the NSA to target emails, even if it's the email of a washed up former one-term President.

    March 23, 2014 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  12. David Turner

    Or it could be because Carter lost his mind around age 80. I wonder if, left to their own devices, the Palestinians would naturally create a real democracy and even allow Christians and Jews to live freely and equally within it. Something tells me a state borne of terrorism would not.

    March 23, 2014 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  13. Adam Morgan

    You should care. Because it is a violation of the Constitution of the United States. And no law passed by Congress or any interpretations made by a judge can change that. The only way to make what the NSA is doing legal would be to amend the Constitution, and last time I checked, that hadn't been done.

    The Constitution specifically states that warrants may only be issued upon probable cause (probable cause does not exist for every citizen to be subject to their records being monitored), and the person/place/things to be searched or seized must be named particularly. The NSA isn't doing this either. They are dragnetting everyone. It violates the principle enshrined in our legal system of innocent until proven guilty. It violates Constitutional law. This isn't about having something to hide or not, it is about a very literal violation of the liberties and freedoms and protections from tyranny that have made this country great.

    "People willing to trade their freedom for security deserve neither and will lose both." Paraphrased Benjamin Franklin.
    At some point, "protecting" becomes "watching." And soon after that, it becomes actively persecuting. You have but to look back at history to see the pattern over and over again. It always turns from protection to control. And you should care. Which of your constitutional rights will be next to fall?

    March 24, 2014 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  14. Barrie

    Carter is incredibly naive if he thinks sending a snail mail letter would stop NSA from reading his mail. As a former president who tends to run off at the mouth uncontrollably, you can bet your bottom dollar his emails, letters, and phone calls are being monitored–particularly anything going to a foreign leader.

    March 24, 2014 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  15. I told you so

    Rougue351, Joseph Goebbels said the same thing back in the 30's. Remember him? He was the Nazi propaganda minister.

    March 24, 2014 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  16. ComeOn2013

    Carter hasn't done anything relevant or interesting in decades. I guarantee the NSA is not wasting their time monitoring him. Check your ego, dude. You're a has-been…or, more accurately, a never-was.

    March 24, 2014 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  17. mark edwards

    No one would spy on Carter, Obama is just worried he will pass Carter for the titile of worst President ever. Right now it is still a tie.

    March 24, 2014 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  18. Name Uche Agonsi

    There are two issues here. The world is in a computer/internet age and there is computer war. Will US response to this war be reactionary only. I am yet to observe these Snowden supporters suggesting reasonable proactive approach to containing the computer war, moreso as this war is both externally and internally induced. The consequencies of complacency could have grave security and economic repercursions. The Snowden propagandists shoud either put up or shut up. We need to hear how they proctect the very state and rights they clamour for under the computer battle age.

    March 24, 2014 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  19. Bill

    a great man

    March 24, 2014 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  20. Zaki

    It is not that NSA is doing a job. It is attacking the individual privacy which is very sacred to every American. US military does know what terrorist acts they are doing worldwide, and they think if people of those nations retaliate they should know.
    We are imposing war on other countries going there and attacking those countries. As a protection they want to monitor the intelligence about every individual whether it is Ex president or ordinary citizen

    March 24, 2014 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  21. Name Uche Agonsi

    I honestly feel that President Obama explained this internet communications in the simplest of terms. Its like the road transport where you have control management gadgets in place. Without the control measures you have chaos. Let someone from these critics tell us how to create and use our roads without effective management measures.

    March 24, 2014 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
  22. Name Uche Agonsi

    And yet a simpler way to put it is that we are in an internet world where so many frauds and crimes are committed every seconds against people and the state. How do these critics expect the govt to fight them.

    March 24, 2014 02:30 am at 2:30 am |
  23. Sonny

    Well bama doesn't call cause he doesn't want good advice, it's obvious.

    March 24, 2014 05:19 am at 5:19 am |
  24. Rudy NYC

    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 wonder if Carter has offered himself as an advisor.

    March 24, 2014 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  25. Tyrone

    Carter was making a joke to see how stupid the press really is. He knows perfectly well that mail going to addresses of interest, or even whole countries, has been routinely opened and copied for well over 100 years.

    March 24, 2014 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
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