October 10, 2007
President Carter: The U.S. has abandoned the basic principle of human rights
Former President Carter accuses President Bush of coming up with his own definitions for torture and human rights. From CNN:
Carter says U.S. tortures prisoners
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The United States tortures prisoners in violation of international law, former President Carter said Wednesday.
"I don't think it. I know it," Carter told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.
"Our country for the first time in my life time has abandoned the basic principle of human rights," Carter said. "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 also said President Bush creates his own definition of human rights.
Carter's comments come on the heels of an October 4 article in The New York Times disclosing the existence of secret Justice Department memorandums supporting the use of "harsh interrogation techniques." These include "head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures," according to the Times.
The White House last week confirmed the existence of the documents but would not make them public.
Responding to the newspaper report Friday, Bush defended the techniques used, saying, "This government does not torture people."
Asked about Bush's comments, Carter said, "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."
After reading a transcript of Carter's remarks, a senior White House official said, "Our position is clear. We don't torture."
The official said, "It's just sad to hear a former president speak like that."