At a time when popular revolutions are sweeping the globe, the United States should be strengthening, not weakening, basic rules of law and principles of justice enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But instead of making the world safer, America’s violation of international human rights abets our enemies and alienates our friends. – Pres. Jimmy Carter
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH is included in Pres. Carter’s op-ed today for the New York Times, which levels a strong accusation of human rights violations against the United States that has been happening for “the last decade,” including in the current Democratic Administration.
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. After more than 30 airstrikes on civilian homes this year in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai has demanded that such attacks end, but the practice continues in areas of Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen that are not in any war zone. […]
Of course, nobody cares on the Democratic side is interested, while Republicans have utilized bravura for decades. Democrats will also feel comfortable since it’s former Pres. Carter making the charge, while Republicans will scoff at what they’ll likely see as a lecture from a man who was “responsible” for the Iranian hostage crisis. Students of history know the details, which begins with an American foreign policy whose trip wire was the Shah.
Pres. George W. Bush shoved Benjamin Franklin’s idea of security versus freedom off the American agenda, but Pres. Barack Obama hasn’t done anything to shift it back to where this country once stood and there’s no chance Democrats are going to make the argument he should.
There’s a big difference between former Pres. Jimmy Carter and Pres. Barack Obama, starting with the fact that Carter actually earned his Nobel Peace Prize, and I say this as someone who has never been a fan of Mr. Carter.
UPDATE: I’m going to add two pieces here, one that Steve Clemons wrote last week, which everyone should read, quoting one section below. Steve’s jumping off point was an article by David Ignatius “Drones vs. Diplomacy,” which mentions Secy. Clinton’s role that lost out against the White House drone policy.
The consequences for the nation, during the presidency of a Democrat who once opposed many of the Bush administration’s anti-terror methodologies, of letting ‘drones’ win could be enormous. – Steve Clemons