Thursday, October 11, 2007

President Carter Says US Tortures Prisoners

Former President Carter said today that the US tortures prisoners.

“I don't think it. I know it," he said in a CNN interview.

Carter also said that the US practice of torture contravenes international law and abandons human rights. He is quoted in part saying: "Our country for the first time in my life time has abandoned the basic principle of human rights," ... We've said that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to those people in Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo, and we've said we can torture prisoners and deprive them of an accusation of a crime to which they are accused."

Carter has moved to criticize the Bush administration after the New York Times revealed that the US Justice Department advocated "harsh interrogation techniques ... which include head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures."

President Bush reacted to the October 4 article by saying that the US does not torture prisoners in contravention of their human rights.

Carter responded to Bush's assertion by saying: "That's not an accurate statement if you use the international norms of torture as has always been honored -- certainly in the last 60 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was promulgated. "But you can make your own definition of human rights and say we don't violate them, and you can make your own definition of torture and say we don't violate them."

The White House, of course, dismissed Carter's comments.

What I find particularly interesting, and damning, about Carter’s critique is his comment that Bush "self-defines" what constitutes torture.

Bush cannot see torture because he is oblivious to the rule of law that covers the rights of political prisoners. Even as I write this it occurs to me how ridiculous it is to even expect that Bush would respect the rule of law where it stands in opposition to his interests.

Given the brutality that Bush has rained down on Iraq, only the very naive and devious will want to believe that prisoners are not being tortured in US prisons and detention centers around the world?

Carter, in an interview with the BBC, also had harsh words for Vice President Cheney today. He said of Cheney:"He's a militant who avoided any service of his own in the military and he has been most forceful in the last 10 years or more in fulfilling some of his more ancient commitments that the United States has a right to inject its power through military means in other parts of the world."

The former President also went on to say that Cheney has "been a disaster for our country, ... I think he's been overly persuasive on President George Bush ... "

I think that Carter has hit the nail here. This round of comments aimed at Bush and Cheney comes on the hills of a new book, however unlike the recent Greenspan flip-flop on Bush, I don't expect Carter to retract or re-spin his criticism.

You can see the Carter interview here. And see the Abu Ghraib torture pictures above (and others) here.

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