NEW YORK – Former President Jimmy Carter said Monday that U.S. intelligence monitoring has run out of control since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and he now handwrites and mails sensitive letters to foreign and American leaders because he is not sure his email or telephone lines are secure.
He started this practice well before National Security Agency contract worker Edward Snowden leaked a trove of documents last year.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt now that the NSA or other agencies monitor or record almost every telephone call made in the United States, including cellphones, and I presume email as well,” Carter said in an interview. “We’ve gone a long way down the road of violating Americans’ basic civil rights, as far as privacy is concerned.”
Phone calls to the NSA for comment on Carter’s remarks were not immediately returned.
If intelligence services are monitoring Carter, they might gain insights into various hot spots and crises around the world. Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, have visited more than 140 nations.
The former president runs The Carter Center, which has pursued human rights, humanitarian work and offered political mediation and election monitoring since he left office in 1981.
Carter is also one of the “Elders,” a group formed by late South African President Nelson Mandela in 2007 that includes senior and retired leaders who work together on peace-building and humanitarian initiatives.
Carter said the surveillance state is now so omniscient that he has turned to “snail mail” in an effort to avoid snooping.
“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 handwrite 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.”