Source: USA Today
NEW YORK — Former 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.”
Carter, 89, was interviewed on USA TODAY’s Capital Download about his new book, A Call To Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power, being published Tuesday. He discussed the need to change the way the U.S. military handles sexual abuse cases, his correspondence with Pope Francis, his grandson’s campaign for governor of Georgia — his former job — and whether Hillary Clinton would make a good president.
And he described how concern that his own e-mails are being monitored by intelligence agencies prompted him to type or write letters when he has a personal message for a foreign leader, then to mail them. Even then, he suspects the letters might be scrutinized when they pass through U.S. embassies.
“I think it’s wrong,” he 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.”
Does he view Snowden, now granted asylum in Russia, as a hero or a traitor?
“There’s no doubt that he broke the law and that he would be susceptible, in my opinion, to prosecution if he came back here under the law,” he said. “But I think it’s good for Americans to know the kinds of things that have been revealed by him and others — and that is that since 9/11 we’ve gone too far in intrusion on the privacy that Americans ought to enjoy as a right of citizenship.”
Carter cautioned that he didn’t have information about whether some of the disclosures “may have hurt our security or individuals that work in security,” adding, “If I knew that, then I may feel differently.” And he said Snowden shouldn’t be immune from prosecution for his actions.