For many in the liberal community, former President Jimmy Carter's path to redemption has long been a noble cause. His efforts on human rights around the world has been given some credence as an elder statesman, and helped him restore his reputation after what many consider a presidential tenure among the worst in American history. But now, that underdog story has taken stumbling block on the matter of Edward Snowden, the leaker of several key National Security Agency documents. The Snowden NSA affair has divided the liberals between leftists who consider him a hero for whistleblowing the NSA's massive spying operation on American citizens, while more moderate liberals condemn him as a traitor and for selling out the country, with a smaller faction remaining neutral while attacking Snowden's escape from the country rather than face trial. Never has the liberals been so heavily divided on a national matter.
Now, Jimmy Carter has stepped into the discussion, and has sided with the leftists. In a meeting for Atlantic Bridge in Atlanta, Georgia, former President Carter praised the leaking of the NSA documents, while acknowledging its illegality. He said that "the secrecy that has been surrounding this invasion of privacy has been excessive," and that Snowden's bringing the operations, including internet data-gathering Operation PRISM, to public attention has been "beneficial." Carter particularly attacked PRISM, noting that its collaboration with Internet titans such as Google and Facebook have sown distrust among Internet users around the world, undermining democracy at large. He even went as far as to suggest that "America has no functioning democracy at this moment," thanks to the actions of the NSA.
Operation PRISM, the primary source of contention in the Snowden leaks, is a data-gathering operation apparently run with the full cooperation of several social media outlets. Companies such as Google and Facebook later denied that they even knew of the program, let alone cooperated. This is not the first time Carter has criticized the NSA's actions. Previously, in an interview with CNN, he noted that invasion of privacy invoked by PRISM had "gone too far."