Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A former President indicts his country's human rights record

You might think a scathing oped by an 87 year old former President would get some notice -- but Google Trends shows no particular attention to this piece from the New York Times. Some choice excerpts from Jimmy Carter:

Revelations that top officials are targeting people to be assassinated abroad, including American citizens, are only the most recent, disturbing proof of how far our nation’s violation of human rights has extended. This development began after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and has been sanctioned and escalated by bipartisan executive and legislative actions, without dissent from the general public. …

With leadership from the United States, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948 as “the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” … The declaration has been invoked by human rights activists and the international community to replace most of the world’s dictatorships with democracies and to promote the rule of law in domestic and global affairs. It is disturbing that, instead of strengthening these principles, our government’s counterterrorism policies are now clearly violating at least 10 of the declaration’s 30 articles, including the prohibition against “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Recent legislation has made legal the president’s right to detain a person indefinitely on suspicion of affiliation with terrorist organizations or “associated forces,” a broad, vague power that can be abused without meaningful oversight from the courts or Congress (the law is currently being blocked by a federal judge). This law violates the right to freedom of expression and to be presumed innocent until proved guilty, two other rights enshrined in the declaration.

In addition to American citizens’ being targeted for assassination or indefinite detention, recent laws have canceled the restraints in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to allow unprecedented violations of our rights to privacy through warrantless wiretapping and government mining of our electronic communications. Popular state laws permit detaining individuals because of their appearance, where they worship or with whom they associate.

Despite an arbitrary rule that any man killed by drones is declared an enemy terrorist, the death of nearby innocent women and children is accepted as inevitable. … We don’t know how many hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed in these attacks, each one approved by the highest authorities in Washington. …

Meanwhile, the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, now houses 169 prisoners. About half have been cleared for release, yet have little prospect of ever obtaining their freedom. American authorities have revealed that, in order to obtain confessions, some of the few being tried (only in military courts) have been tortured by waterboarding more than 100 times or intimidated with semiautomatic weapons, power drills or threats to sexually assault their mothers. Astoundingly, these facts cannot be used as a defense by the accused, because the government claims they occurred under the cover of “national security.” Most of the other prisoners have no prospect of ever being charged or tried either.

President Carter laments that these crimes against international law, domestic law, and common humanity undermine the moral influence of the United States. That is, he's still a defender of United States' preeminence. But what if we've become indefensible? That's the question for the next generation.

Go read Carter's entire indictment.

Photo shows the former President stumping for his son in 2006 in Reno, Nevada. The younger Carter lost that election; the former President was still a vigorous champion.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jimmy Carter tried to "encourage" unmarried members of his staff who were (in his words)"living in sin" to get married. The attack rabbit didn't help his image, of course, and clowns like Hamilton Jordan and Bert Lance weren't good, either. Personally inept, Eugene McCarthy said he "abdicated the responsibilities of the Presidency", leading the left-of-center McCarthy to vote for Ronald Reagan just to get Carter out of the White House.
Very nice that he builds houses; should never have been President.