Jimmy Carter still attends to the details. He was quite heavily involved in the International Conference on the Right to Public Information, which was held at the Carter Center this week. He even suggested a number of amendments for the final declaration to emerge from the conference.
“As some of you may remember, I was the President once,” he said. He got in some good jibes at the Bush Administration. “Under the present Administration, the [need for secrecy] has gone to extremes,” he remarked. “They’re putting a secret stamp on almost every paper they can find.” Carter then went on to mock Cheney for the Vice President’s assertion, in an attempt to keep his papers secret, that he belongs to both the legislative and the executive branch.
I had the luck to be seated next to two members of the Secret Service. (Their signature earpieces gave them away.) They were rotating on quite a regular basis. I thought to myself that the Secret Service must be learning a lot about the issues that the Carter Center is involved in. Midway through the session, Rosalynn Carter walked in through the side door near where I was sitting. During a break in the conference, I almost bumped into Jimmy Carter while walking out of the restroom. Turns out that he was walking to a sofa to relax.
The conference ended with a resolve on the part of all the participants to work on a declaration over the next few weeks. The draft will then be presented to international institutions and to governments around the world. Of course, having Carter’s name behind it helps in the declaration getting some attention.
Literally the moment the conference ended, I was whisked into Carter’s office for an interview. He responded to my questions genially and precisely. You will have to read an upcoming issue to find out his answers.