Jimmy Carter: NSA Intelligence Gathering Ruining Democracy

Thursday, 18 Jul 2013 01:20 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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"America no longer has a functioning democracy," former President Jimmy Carter said Wednesday, condemning the United States' intelligence programs and the collection of data from Americans and persons overseas.

Carter, speaking at an Atlanta event sponsored by The Atlantic Bridge, a private, non-profit group working to further German-U.S. relationships, said the Obama administration has been trying to placate Europe's anger over spying programs, the German publication Der Spiegel reports.

However, National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden's revelations are proving useful, said Carter, because "they inform the public."

Democratic developments that are fueled by social media sites like Facebook and Twitter could be damaged by the revelations, said Carter, reports The Daily Caller.

Carter's conference statements aren't the first time the former president has criticized U.S. intelligence policies.

"I think the invasion of privacy has gone too far," Carter told CNN in June. "I think that 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. I think the American people deserve to know what their Congress is doing."

Carter has also warned that the United States' moral authority has been in trouble because of the restriction of civil liberties. In an article he wrote for The New York Times, Carter criticized U.S. surveillance procedures as a "never-before seen breach (of) our privacy by the government."

During Carter's tenure from 1977 to 1981, he tried to make foreign policy be more about human rights and won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his humanitarian work. While he was president, Carter convinced Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to sign the Camp David peace agreements in 1979.

In Atlanta this week, Carter said he is now pessimistic about the global situation, and that there is no reason for him to be optimistic about Egypt, which he says is now in a "military dictatorship," reports The International Business Times.

In addition, Carter complained about the growing political divide in the United States, the influence of money in election campaigns, and confusing election rules.

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