On Tuesday, July 16, at an event in Atlanta, ex-president Jimmy Carter made his blockbuster statement referring to, among other issues, the mass surveillance of U.S. citizens. The event was sponsored by a German organization devoted to building German American relations. Der Spiegel and the International Business Times reported on Carter’s comments. His comments have yet to appear in American mainstream media.
This is not the first time ex-president Carter has expressed deep concern about the direction the country is headed.
In a 2012 New York Times op-ed, Carter criticized the Obama administration and Democratic and Republican legislators for abandoning the role of the United States as the global champion of human rights. He chastised a complacent public for allowing that to happen.
Revelations that top officials are targeting people to be assassinated abroad, including American citizens, are only the most recent, disturbing proof of how far our nation’s violation of human rights has extended. This development began after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and has been sanctioned and escalated by bipartisan executive and legislative actions, without dissent from the general public. As a result, our country can no longer speak with moral authority on these critical issues.. . .
In addition to American citizens’ being targeted for assassination or indefinite detention, recent laws have canceled the restraints in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to allow unprecedented violations of our rights to privacy through warrantless wiretapping and government mining of our electronic communications.
In June of this year, Carter expressed his opinion about the newly revealed NSA surveillance scandal and Edward Snowden. Speaking to CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux, he said:
I think the invasion of human rights and American privacy has gone too far, and I think that the secrecy that has been surrounding this invasion of privacy has been excessive. . . Bringing it to the public notice has probably been, in the long term, beneficial.
He added that although Snowden violated US law, by bringing the issue to light, he may have ultimately done good for the country.
A few days ago, at the meeting in Atlanta, Carter cited the excessive influence of money in U.S, election campaigns and confusing election rules as playing key roles in the destruction of our democracy. The ex-president, who through his “Carter Center,” monitors elections worldwide, doubts the United States meets the Center’s standards for fair elections.
I only hope it begins to sink in among the general public that we have exchanged whatever fragile democracy we once had for a bi-partisan, secret military surveillance state whose main purpose is to protect and promote the interests of banks and multinational corporations at home and abroad. Perhaps an ex-president, a Democrat, will shake us out of our complacency.