According to quite a few books about modern presidents—most notably The Presidents Club—among all the living former presidents, Jimmy Carter is generally considered to be the troublemaker, the loose cannon. If you ask him to perform a peacekeeping or humanitarian mission, Carter might keep his head down and do an excellent job, or he might decide to say something that spins the media into 24 hours of rabid chattering. Sheryl Gay Stolberg at the New York Times reports that off-message Jimmy Carter was making the rounds today:
Former President Jimmy Carter, on a swing through the nation’s capitol to promote a new book, said Wednesday that he would consider a pardon for Edward J. Snowden, the contractor who leaked classified information about the National Security Agency. But Mr. Carter said he was not certain he would grant one.
It's an innocent enough statement on the face of it, but it's sure to inspire Democrats to challenge President Obama to address the issue of Snowden again. And President Obama absolutely should pardon Snowden. As I wrote yesterday, Obama is addressing NSA reform because of Edward Snowden's leaks. If Obama truly believes that the NSA needs to be reformed, shouldn't he be grateful to Snowden for sharing this information with the American public? Wouldn't that make Edward Snowden a national hero?
In more local news, if you'd like to personally ask him about Edward Snowden, Jimmy Carter is signing copies of his new book at Elliott Bay Book Company next Monday at noon. I wonder which Jimmy Carter will show up for this event? I hope it's the rabble-rouser; I like that guy.