Jimmy Carter thinks his email is being read by the National Security Agency (NSA) according to an interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, which was aired on the network’s Meet the Press news program yesterday. In a wide-ranging interview on a number of subjects, the 89 year-old former president said that when he wants to communicate with a foreign leader confidentially, he types or writes the letter, seals it in an envelope and walks it over to the nearest post office himself.
During the interview, the obviously healthy and alert former Georgia governor and one-term president touched on a number of subjects that are close to his heart, beginning with his new campaign to change the way the world treats women. His newest book, “A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power,” due out tomorrow, is a call to action in which he asks men to re-think their attitudes toward women in the face of the damning statistics about the roles of women around the world.
Carter gave tacit approval to Edward Snowden’s controversial revelations about NSA spying, saying he had no doubt Snowden broke the law and that he would be susceptible to prosecution if he were to return to the United States. However, Carter also said what Snowden did was probably constructive in the long run,adding it is important for Americans to know the kinds of things Snowden revealed. He also expressed the opinion that U.S. security agencies have gone too far in their surveillance in terms of the intrusion on the right to privacy Americans enjoy.
Carter, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate for his role in negotiating the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, regrets he has not been consulted on foreign affairs by incumbent president Barack Obama, who is also a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. Other presidents, including both George H.W. Bush and his son, George W.Bush, as well as Bill Clinton, have consulted him on foreign affairs and have occasionally asked him to perform missions for them, asking him to go and speak to world leaders they would rather not speak to in person. Carter attributed the Obama administration’s coolness toward the ex-president to his outspoken support for an “more even-handed” American policy toward Israel and Palestine, a position that has earned him the enmity of certain segments of the American Jewish community.
It is worth noting that both Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama have taken the same position with respect to a final settlement of the Israel-Palestine deadlock, which calls for a return to the 1967 borders with certain exchanges of territories to protect the interests of the two communities. This position ignores the mutual intransigence of both parties over the disposition of East Jerusalem, which includes the “Old City” where the holiest sites in Judaism are located. Both sides want it, and neither side seems poised to let go.
Cater graciously gave Obama some cover on the issue of what Obama should have done with respect to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea by saying there was nothing Obama could have done to prevent the annexation. Obama has been under heavy attack from conservatives who claim he did not do enough to prevent Russia from grabbing Crimea. Carter then went on to suggest the President should draw a line in the sand by announcing that force would be met with force by using all of the weapons at his disposal should Russia attempt any further annexations, as he did after the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.
On the subject of the treatment of women, Carter is especially concerned about how people of faith use their respective scriptures to reinforce discrimination against women by choosing selectively among the bible’s 34,000 verses to embrace those that relegate women to second class status. He enumerated a litany of complaints about the mistreatment that women endure, ranging from sexual assaults in the military to female circumcision and “honor” killings.
Pointing out that the U.S. has failed to ratify several U.N. treaties seeking to establish equality for women on the grounds that the resolutions appeared to support contraception and abortion, the former Southern Baptist Sunday School teacher insisted the U.S. has to do more, both aboard and at home, to equalize the role of women in society. Carter cited statistics indicating that human trafficking, the contemporary term for slavery, is a $34 billion industry around the world, and then brought the statistic into sharper focus by adding that some 200 women are sold into slavery each month in Atlanta, Georgia, alone. The former president and his wife withdrew from the South Baptist Conference over the issue of the ordination of women and now belong to a more liberal Baptist congregation.
The most prolific of all ex-presidents, Carter has written 20 books on political, social and religious topics, and at least one novel, set in Revolutionary Period Georgia. He is currently on a promotional tour to drum up interest in the new book, which has quickly become required reading in view of the likelihood that Hillary Clinton will run for president again. On that subject, Carter, a close confidant of the Clintons, said that, as a good Democrat, he would of course support the Democratic nominee, but said he would not be disappointed if that candidate turned out to be a woman.
Whether or not the NA is really reading Carter’s mail, the fact remains that Carter thinks his email is being read by the NSA, and that raises a troubling issue. In the wake of accusations by Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Chairman of Senate Intelligence Committee, that the CIA was hacking into the computers systems of members of Congress and removing documents from them, the question now becomes whether or not members of Congress should take to pen and ink to avoid being hacked by another government agency. This leads to yet another question: who said the mail was safe in the first place?
By Alan M. Milner