Jimmy Carter uses snail mail to evade NSA

Jimmy Carter uses snail mail to evade NSA

Summary: Former US president Jimmy Carter has said that he believes his email is monitored, and in order to avoid such surveillance, posts letters to foreign leaders instead.


Former US president Jimmy Carter has admitted he uses snail mail to evade monitoring by the National Security Agency and that he feels such surveillance methods have been abused.

"When I want to communicate with a foreign leader privately, I type or write a letter myself, put it in the post office, and mail it," Carter said with a laugh, as he was questioned on the matter on NBC's Meet the Press program.

"I have felt that my own communications are probably monitored," he said on the Sunday show.

A trove of documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden have sparked outrage in the US and abroad about the vast capabilities of America's intelligence programs.

Officials have defended the methods as necessary to thwart terror attacks but President Barack Obama has ordered reforms in the wake of the disclosures.

Asked whether the programs were necessary, Carter said he thought they had "been extremely liberalised and, I think, abused by our own intelligence agencies".

"I believe if I send an email, it will be monitored," he said.

Similarly, in November last year,  Australia's Inspector General of Intelligence and Security revealed that all external communication out of the office is conducted via paper.

"We do not send emails, except internally on the system on which we keep our very sensitive documents. It is a local area network within the office," Dr Vivienne Thom, Inspector General of Intelligence and Security, said at the time.

Topics: Security, Government, Privacy

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  • While paper mail can be monitored also...

    ...it's a lot more work. It takes time to steam open an envelope, scan the letter and reseal the envelope; not to mention having to tell postal clerks to be on the lookout for letters to and from particular individuals (increasing the probability of leaks).

    I doubt this would have occurred to someone who grew up with e-mail.
    John L. Ries
    • Not quite

      Just take an electric scan of the sealed message. Software can unfold the message from the scanned image.

      The biggest protection mail has is that there are more tighter laws governing it. Electronic communications has been (left purposely) vague.
      Rann Xeroxx
      • Depends on how opaque the envelope and paper are.

        The paranoid among us should take note of that.
        That and OCR is still as much art as science, especially if a letter is handwritten.
        John L. Ries