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Jimmy Carter: Snowden Disclosures Are 'Good For Americans To Know' 289

Posted by Soulskill
from the easy-for-him-to-say dept.
McGruber writes: "Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter defended the disclosures by fugitive NSA contractor Edward Snowden on Monday, saying revelations that U.S. intelligence agencies were collecting meta-data of Americans' phone calls and e-mails have been 'probably constructive in the long run.' 'I think it's wrong,' President Carter said of the NSA program. 'I think it's an intrusion on one of the basic human rights of Americans, is to have some degree of privacy if we don't want other people to read what we communicate.'" It's important to note that Carter doesn't believe Snowden should necessarily get a pass for his actions. Carter said, "I think it's inevitable that he should be prosecuted and I think he would be prosecuted, [if he comes back to the U.S.] But I don't think he ought to be executed as a traitor or any kind of extreme punishment like that." Nevertheless, Carter thinks NSA surveillance has gotten out of control. "We've gone a long way down the road of violating Americans' basic civil rights, as far as privacy is concerned." He added, "For the last two or three years, when I want to write a highly personal letter to a foreign leader, or even some American leaders, I hand-write it and mail it, because I feel that my telephone calls and my email are being monitored, and there are some things I just don’t want anybody to know except me and my wife."
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Jimmy Carter: Snowden Disclosures Are 'Good For Americans To Know'

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  • by wiredlogic (135348) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @01:15PM (#46575275)

    What does President Carter have to hide? Must be some sort of terrorist if he wants to communicate privately. We should get a government security detail to monitor this dissident ASAP.

    • by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @01:27PM (#46575421) Homepage Journal

      What does President Carter have to hide? Must be some sort of terrorist if he wants to communicate privately. We should get a government security detail to monitor this dissident ASAP.

      He's a liberal, of course he thinks people should have civil rights. Why, he's practically a socialist!

      What we need now, more than ever, is fanatical nationalism!

      wait wut?

      • by zlives (2009072)

        "wait wut?" i think you misspelled "Hail Victory" :)

      • Ugh, stop it.

        A. Woosh.
        B. Not everyone hates liberals. It's true. Some of us would make that joke and be quite liberal ourselves.
        C. "Wait what?" or "wut" pick one. This blend sounds artificially stupid which makes it loose its punch.

      • by dbIII (701233)

        He's a liberal, of course he thinks people should have civil rights. Why, he's practically a socialist!

        The way things have moved there are issues where Nixon would be considered a socialist (eg. pollution control and healthcare).

    • Sure, why not?

      Society has a certain tolerance for criminal behavior. You stole a pack of gum. You fucked a hooker. You downloaded illegal kiddy porn, like... a lot... when you were 17. Okay. It happens. Did you keep robbing convenience stores? Have you continued to violate the social contract selecting against prostitution? Do you still have 14 year olds texting you pictures of their boobs? No? Well... not a problem.

      When you exceed these tolerances, you risk getting arrested. Running a child

    • by EvilSS (557649)

      What does President Carter have to hide? Must be some sort of terrorist if he wants to communicate privately. We should get a government security detail to monitor this dissident ASAP.

      Well he did supply arms and training to what would become the Taliban...

    • by steelfood (895457)

      Like the Secret Service perhaps?

    • by readin (838620)

      What does President Carter have to hide? Must be some sort of terrorist if he wants to communicate privately. We should get a government security detail to monitor this dissident ASAP.

      Well, he does think terrorist aren't as much of a problem as civilized countries are. From Wikipedia:
      In his book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, published in November 2006, Carter states:
      Israel's continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Holy Land.[132]

  • They'd done a sloppy job of resealing the envelope after steaming it open. Back to wax seals I guess.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      They'd done a sloppy job of resealing the envelope after steaming it open. Back to wax seals I guess.

      They tried it, but it gummed up the tubes of the interwebs.

    • I don't think Carter was implying that he SHOULD be prosecuted, but rather just stating that it is inevitable that he WILL be if he returns to the US. Meaning, there is nothing he or anyone else could do about it.
      • by danlip (737336)

        he used the word "should"

    • by jez9999 (618189) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @01:59PM (#46575717) Homepage Journal

      I agree, this is a serious cop-out on Carter's part. Either you think the info shouldn't have been released and Snowden should be prosecuted, or you think it's good that it was and therefore he shouldn't be. It's inconsistent and pathetic to take the benefit of the data leak and yet support the punishment of the person(s) who gave you that benefit anyway.

      • Carter knows (Score:5, Interesting)

        by bussdriver (620565) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @02:39PM (#46576217)

        Carter knows how the system works (or more like how it doesn't work) he isn't going to go too far out on a limb when he doesn't know the details of the situation. Plus despite his age and lower activity he knows he can't afford to cause himself too much trouble - he has said for decades that he had to avoid stepping on toes because of the repercussions.

        In addition, his philosophy is you change things within a system; which means dealing with the broken process and trying to fix it along the way. He does not have an insurgent mindset where one goes around the system on the assumption that it is useless and unrepairable. So it is a rather big deal that he backs Snowden's circumvention as much as he does. His thinking would be along the lines of a whistle blower protection process so one wouldn't need to circumvent the system. You simply don't succeed in the Military and then become US President without at least a little authoritarian bias.

        Carter was the last actual president on the USA. Afterwards they were all vetted so they will not mess with the establishment. It just goes to show, the president doesn't have much power; just like a puppet dictator, the only power is that which is sanctioned by those who are actually in control.

    • He should go to trial. So we can really filter out the information about his status. You can do the a good thing, however the way that you did it was wrong.

      He did leak classified documents. That was bad.
      However did he only leak information about illegal activity or did he leak valid legal methods too?
      Did he follow the correct procedure on reporting illegal activity?
      How/if was he stopped in following this procedure?

      To me it seemed that he was faced with three options.
      1. Shut-up and just let it go. He keeps

      • by DarkOx (621550)

        Well I hardly think pointing out the problems to authorities would have worked. I mean Clapper can't even tell Congress anything truthful, its not like he or anyone else at NSA was going to act on some low level sys admin questioning the legality of the program, no I pretty much think Snowden's only real options were either (1) or (3) because (2) might as well be (1) for all it would matter.

        That said yea, he probably should be prosecuted. He is suspected of having committed serious criminal acts, its the

      • by Jason Levine (196982) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @03:35PM (#46576801)

        Snowden has said that he tried option 2 and was told to keep quiet. Add in that others who tried Option 2 a bit louder found themselves not only fired but with trumped up charges brought against them. This left Snowden's only real options as 1 (Keep quiet) and 3 (release the information). He chose 3 and, rightfully so, decided that doing this meant he'd need to go on the run.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      yes. He broke the law, and a pretty serious one.
      Is he a traitor? no.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @01:24PM (#46575389)

    I'm glad that Mr. Carter is so concerned about the basic human rights of Americans. I would, however, urge him to explain to me how the basic human rights of Americans differ from the basic human rights of other humans...

    Seriously, all of the recent news about the NSA basically read "oh, we will take better care of US citizens", but the fact that they explicitly mention the "basic human rights of Americans" or "US citizens" probably implies "we'll continue as before spying on our friends over in Europe and elsewhere"...

    • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @01:37PM (#46575515)

      I would, however, urge him to explain to me how the basic human rights of Americans differ from the basic human rights of other humans...

      Well, in the context of the NSA it goes like this: In the USA there is a framework in place that permits The Man to spy on an Americans (subpoenas, warrants), so if The Man wants to spy he needs to work within that legal framework.

      There's no such framework in place for The Man to spy on alleged baddies in foreign nations - So in that sense, the rights of Americans are different from the rights of foreigners.

    • I think Carter might be among the worst possible target for these complaints. He spends tremendous amounts of time and energy outside the US addressing serious economic, social, and diplomatic issues as a private individual and head of the Carter foundation.

    • "we'll continue as before spying on our friends over in Europe and elsewhere"...

      "Nations do not have friends, they have interests." ---a lot of politicians throughout history.

      So, yes, we'll continue spying on people in Europe and elsewhere.

      Just as the Europeans spy on the USA, and other countries spy on the USA. It's one of those things that governments do as a matter of course.

  • My 0.02 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DaMattster (977781) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @01:26PM (#46575411)
    I'm glad to hear Carter's stance on NSA and spying but I'm deeply disappointed that he stopped short of exoneration for Snowden. In my mind, Snowden is a patriot. No country should sacrifice liberty for security. When this happens, the terrorists win. Yes, they win and win big.
    • Re:My 0.02 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @01:49PM (#46575623)

      Jimmy Carter's fault has always been that he wants fairness and "the right thing" not merely what's popular or "should be" right. Reagan's popularity was in large part because he didn't care that much about fairness, he wanted what "should be" right for him, his cronies, and his country, and everyone else was expected to get out of the way and take care of themselves.

      I'm with Carter's view, though. Snowden should face trial, because that's the appropriate response for distributing confidential information without permission. A fair and impartial trial would most likely acknowledge that he broke laws and agreements, but exonerate him because he had no obviously better alternative. It's also a good place to put the whole thing under close public inspection. And public inspection is one of the cornerstones of democracy, just as keeping everything hidden is a hallmark of the police state.

      Unforfunately, at the moment, the best we seem to be able to offer Snowden is a fair and impartial conviction.

      • Re:My 0.02 (Score:5, Interesting)

        by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @02:15PM (#46575937) Journal

        It's unfortunate that our legal system has chosen to interpret "impartial" as "unqualified". One of the greatest flaws in our legal system is that we want it to be "fair" by removing any hope of it being more than a crap shoot. I could be a lawyer with no legal training simply by manipulating the jury using basic negotiation tactics.

        First thing: do you know the defendant or anyone else involved? Yes? Get out.

        Second thing: do you know anything about this particular case? Yes? Get out.

        Third thing: Do you know anything about anything involved in this case--for example, anything about the NSA spying programs, constitutional law related, other media coverage for similar cases i.e. Julian Assange, etc. Yes? Get out.

        What we have left is people who know nothing about these activities, how it affects them, or what Snowden revealed. They haven't put any thought into government spying programs, and will likely see "Government protecting citizens" versus "insane conspiracy theorist throwing dangerous national secrets everywhere". Without a huge amount of analysis, backgrounds in criminology and philosophy, and a strong understanding of wide-spread social theory, they can't make a good judgment. They either immediately go, "Oh he broke the law and spilled a lot of our secret important government anti-terrorist protection activities all over, putting us in danger," or they'll go, "Government! I told you them commie son-bitches! They tryin' mind control us!"

        It's like pulling a bunch of people into a lecture hall where they have a debate over quantum mechanics for a few hours a day, and then several days or weeks later they ask you how you think the protouniverse could have emerged from the quantum foam (where the fuck did the energy come from!?) and if black holes and dark matter are mutually exclusive or can co-exist in nine-dimensional space. And you're not allowed to study quantum theory before or during this whole affair.

        • by Sarten-X (1102295)

          So in other words, you want your juries to be vigilante posses, who determine guilt not by impartial facts, but by prejudice and bias, simply repeating the verdict handed to them by the Court of Public Opinion. You'd be right, though. With that kind of jury, you don't need to have any legal education to argue a case. You just have to slander the other guy convincingly enough while confirming the jury's prejudice.

          1. Clearly, making a violent video game is worthy of punishment, because all the parents on the ju
          • simply repeating the verdict handed to them by the Court of Public Opinion.

            You're retarded.

            After the complete injustice of the Zimmerman trial, would a similar trial have any chance of justice, were it tried on preexisting "knowledge" rather than the facts of the case?

            Let's imagine the Zimmerman trial in a different direction. In real life, the Zimmerman trial had several jurors who were mothers, who knew nothing about the case, and who carried firearms themselves. They had two opposing inherent biases: they had children of their own, and they felt that carrying a lethal weapon for protection was warranted in general.

            In our fantasy trial, we kick out any juror who has a concealed carry permit. Remember the second bias: they already believe carryi

            • by Sarten-X (1102295)

              You're retarded.

              A brilliant rebuttal.

              Let's imagine the Zimmerman trial in a different direction. In real life, the Zimmerman trial had several jurors who were mothers, who knew nothing about the case, and who carried firearms themselves. They had two opposing inherent biases: they had children of their own, and they felt that carrying a lethal weapon for protection was warranted in general.

              Clearly, then, they know a thing or two about the firearm basics, disproving your basic assertion that in the existing court system, jurors with knowledge are dismissed. I get the distinct impression that you didn't actually read the site I linked to. The injustice in the Zimmerman trial was that there was a trial at all when the prosecution didn't have evidence for its case. Instead of letting the matter fade away because Zimmerman could not be proven guilty, it went to trial anyway, h

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Unforfunately, at the moment, the best we seem to be able to offer Snowden is a fair and impartial conviction.

        Given that, doesn't it seem like saying that Snowden should face trial is much like saying that the Jews should have gone quietly to the camps? To ram the point home, the ones that resisted had a massively better survival rate.

      • by Entropius (188861)

        Your hope, it seems, is that Snowden would receive a trial in which he would be acquitted because what he did was ultimately moral. I don't know if that sort of thing still happens, but it once did.

        My ancestors arrived in this country in the 19th century and took a job with a railroad cutting wood for the boilers. None spoke English, and the railroad took advantage of this and didn't pay them. So they robbed a train, taking no money from the passengers and only what they were owed from the railroad. They we

      • by dcw3 (649211)

        I'm mostly in agreement. But, I doubt that he'd be exonerated for the reason you state. His "alternative" was simply not to do what he did. At an absolute minimum, he should have attempted to raise his concerns up the chain through approved channels. Did he try this? If not, I'd suggest that he's screwed.

        • by khallow (566160)

          At an absolute minimum, he should have attempted to raise his concerns up the chain through approved channels. Did he try this? If not, I'd suggest that he's screwed.

          Others did try this. And it's possible that he'd be facing more jail time going through approved channels than he is now.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      That doesn't man he didn't break the law. Or do we allow people off from trial for good intentions now?

  • by fuzznutz (789413) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @01:32PM (#46575473)
    Jimmy Carter is the best ex-president we've ever had.
  • by fredrated (639554) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @01:35PM (#46575491) Journal

    but first we need to prosecute the criminals he revealed. Unless that happens, nothing will change.

    • by dcw3 (649211)

      Who were they, and please list their crimes.

      While we may find much of what has been exposed just plain sucks, I haven't seen anything (did I miss it?) that qualifies. Then there's the matter of deciding who was responsible.

  • by Tumbleweed (3706) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @01:44PM (#46575571)

    Politicians are quick to say the NSA has gone too far, but none of them have the balls to say Snowden should be pardoned. Grow some balls. He apparently tried several times to bring his concerns to his superiors, only to be shut down. If he didn't do what he did, we would not know what we know, or even be having this discussion. There's no need to make him a martyr. He did what was right.

    • More generically: Politicians are quick to say things but few will go out on a limb politically to actually fix things that need fixing.

  • "We've gone a long way down the road of violating Americans' basic civil rights, as far as privacy is concerned."

    I wonder what he thinks should happen to the people that have secretly taken us down this road.

    'I think it's an intrusion on one of the basic human rights of Americans..."

    I would add every innocent person on the planet. Somehow, that's not a common belief.

  • It is one thing to invade the privacy of your citizens.
    It is quite another thing to do this without them knowing that this is happening at this scale (!)

    Snowden deserves to be exempt from further prosecution.

    In fact, I believe NSA officers should be trialed for not announcing the nature of their actions.

  • It was good for snowden to speak about about NSA's spying on Americans. That is whistle blowing. Sadly, it is less than 5% of what he has spoken about.
    95% of what he has outed is pure treason.
  • "For the last two or three years, when I want to write a highly personal letter to a foreign leader, or even some American leaders, I hand-write it and mail it, because I feel that my telephone calls and my email are being monitored, and there are some things I just don’t want anybody to know except me and my wife."

    Image detecting apparatus and method for reading and or verifying the contents of sealed envelopes [google.st]

  • For the last two or three years, when I want to write a highly personal letter to a foreign leader, or even some American leaders, I hand-write it and mail it, because I feel that my telephone calls and my email are being monitored, and there are some things I just don't want anybody to know except me and my wife.

    "And I'm proud to be an American, were I know that I am free..."

  • Jimmy the Ignorant (Score:2, Interesting)

    by geekmux (1040042)

    "For the last two or three years, when I want to write a highly personal letter to a foreign leader, or even some American leaders, I hand-write it and mail it, because I feel that my telephone calls and my email are being monitored..."

    This is a man who is still afforded Secret Service protection to this day, and he actually thinks his communications to foreign or American leaders are private because he licked a stamp.

    Seriously, how ignorant can one really be.

  • He was good at bringing home the pork such as the nuke sub base in GA; one of the worst places on the coast for such a base because of the shallow water around it.
  • He's wrong about a lot of things, and he was a terrible President, but I've always thought he was a fairly decent guy. Good for him.

  • Jimmy Carter... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @04:36PM (#46577427)

    Was the last President to accomplish anything significant in the Middle East Peace Process.
    Was the last President to be concerned about Energy Policy on a level other than "Do what the Energy Companies pay you to do"... (He created the Energy Dept)
    Took responsibility for his failures unlike his successor who claimed to be unaware of what his underlings did in his name. (Iran Contra)
    Was the last honest President and never said things like "If you like your insurance you can keep it", "Iraq has weapons of mass destruction", "I did not have sex with that woman", "Read my lips: No new taxes", or talked about the virtues of smaller government while increasing the size of the military industrial complex, or waging a war on drugs as if American adults needed the government to tell them which intoxications they could indulge in...
    He created less national debt than his successors
    He didn't get the United States involved in any war. Between wars and attacks from Beirut, to the Stark, to the Cole, to Iraq War I, to Iraq War II, to Afghanistan, more military personnel died serving his succesors

    His administration was far from perfect, but 100 years from now when OBJECTIVE historians research his time in office, he's going to come out looking a lot better than a lot of revisionist republican HACK historians would lead you to believe.

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