Page 3 Profile: Jimmy Carter, Former US President


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A man of letters…

Quite literally, as it happens. James Earl “Jimmy” Carter Jr, the 39th US president, who served in office between 1977 and 1981, has revealed that he shuns modern technology when it comes to communicating with world leaders past and present, opting for good old-fashioned snail mail as opposed to firing off a quick email.

He loves the smell of fresh  stationery in the morning?

The Democrat’s reasons for catching up via post are a little darker than that. In an interview with the American broadcaster NBC, Carter, 89, explained that he uses the postal service for his more sensitive correspondence because he believes his electronic communications are beng monitored by the National Security Agency (NSA).

Surely as a former President he is exempt from such scrutiny?

Apparently not. Carter, who lives with Rosalynn, his wife of 68 years, in Plains, Georgia, said that the government’s attitude to surveillance practices had become “abused”. He revealed: “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.”

Yikes! That’s quite an indictment of US surveillance practises…

Indeed. He has previously voiced his support for Edward Snowden, who leaked details about the NSA’s global surveillance programmes. Last June, Carter said of the whistle-blower: “He’s obviously violated the laws of America, for which he’s responsible, but I think the invasion of human rights and American privacy has gone too far.” He added: “The secrecy that has been surrounding this invasion of privacy has been excessive, so I think that the bringing of it to the public notice has probably been, in the long term, beneficial.”

Any other revelations?

Carter has also claimed that although Bill Clinton and George W Bush have called on him and his human rights organisation, the Carter Centre, for advice on foreign policy questions, Barack Obama never has. “The Carter Centre has taken a very strong and public position of equal treatment between the Palestinians and the Israelis,” Carter said. “I think this was a sensitive area in which the President didn’t want to be involved.”