Jimmy Carter is making waves: "America does not have a functioning democracy at this point in time,” he told a meeting of the American Bridge, held in Atlanta, when asked about Edward Snowden’s exposure of Washington’s secret global surveillance system. Looks like the only outlet that covered the meeting was Der Spiegel, but word is spreading and it won’t be long before the Usual Suspects start ranting about what aflake Carter is, and that he should shut up already and go lock himself in his presidential library. But think about it: for a former President to say this is unprecedented in modern times.
The NSA spying scandal, he went on to tell his audience, is subverting democracy around the world: he warned that one consequence of the Snowden revelations will beincreasing suspicion of American online platforms, such as Facebook and Google, both of which he characterized as major factors energizing pro-democracy movements abroad.
Carter’s previous statements about the Snowden affair were mildly supportive: he toldCNN he thought "the secrecy that has been surrounding this invasion of privacy has been excessive," and that Snowden’s bringing the secret surveillance of Americans "to the public notice has probably been, in the long term, beneficial." Yet this new statement goes way beyond that: it is a sweeping condemnation of the current regime. That a former US President would say such a thing has got to be the scariest public pronouncement I’ve heard since the Watergate era. What’s even scarier: Carter is right.