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Dawud Walid: Time to act on President Carter's NSA fears

Even former President Jimmy Carter feels he can't escape the prying eyes of the federal government.

Even former President Jimmy Carter feels he can’t escape the prying eyes of the federal government.

America has perhaps hit an all-time low for its citizens pertaining to intrusive surveillance and lack of privacy from the federal government.

A sad commentary of this was shown Sunday on “Meet the Press” in an interview with Andrea Mitchell and former President Jimmy Carter. Carter stated that our intelligence services are abusing their authorities. Other former and current elected officials have said the same. This is not a shocking statement.

What is shocking, however, is that Carter stated that he sends snail mail abroad to his foreign contacts out of fear that he’s under surveillance. Within this context, he voiced concerns about National Security Agency (NSA) potentially spying on him, “Because I believe if I send an email it will be monitored.” That a former Commander in Chief believes that the Obama administration is monitoring his communications sounds like something out of the Soviet Union.

Even former presidents don’t feel safe. No wonder Carter said last July that “America does not at the moment have a functioning democracy.”

Adding on to this, Facebook founder and head Mark Zuckerberg recently voiced his concerns about the NSA using fake Facebook websites to not only intercept social media traffic but also to infect users’ computers with bugs to monitor their activities. We’re in an Orwellian era in which everyone from former presidents, corporate leaders, journalists, human rights activists to college student groups need data encryption to protect themselves, not from online mafia and pirates but from the United States federal government.

Congress must restore the U.S. Constitution by placing restrictions on the executive branch’s ability to monitor citizens and legal residents, without probable cause, in the name of national security. Hopefully, the Amash-Conyers Amendment, a bill aimed at curtailing bulk phone record collection by the NSA, which failed to pass last year by only 15 votes, can be reintroduced.

If we don’t want Big Brother snooping on our personal conversations and infecting our laptops with spyware in the meantime, I guess we all need data encryption or to send our communications via snail mail.