In a recently published article in the New York Times, ex-president Jimmy Carter accused the United States government of being one of the biggest violators of human rights on the planet. He went into detail on how we fail miserably to uphold the values that we so strongly profess to hold sacred. The article, entitled “A Cruel and Unusual Record” does not point fingers at anyone specifically, but many believe it to be a criticism of the current Obama administration.
The list of Carter’s accusations is long and shocking. He talks about the “kill lists” that high-ranking government officials keep - lists of people who have been targeted for approved assassination, including U.S. citizens. He states that the U.S. is seriously violating both international law and the U.S. Constitution. Some of the laws in place make it possible for people to be detained indefinitely if they are suspected of being connected to terrorist organizations. These laws, Carter states, can be easily abused to target anyone that the government sees as being troublesome and allows authorities to wiretap and spy on U.S. citizens whenever they see fit.
He also goes into detail about the continued use of the Guantanamo prison camp and how the people interred are likely to never see their freedom, whether they are innocent or not. They are being denied all legal recourse, including the right to a fair trial. Torture continues as a common way of obtaining a confession from the prisoners, a method long-known to gain confessions from even the most innocent of people.
Another action Carter condemns is the U.S. military’s use of drone strikes to take down those on their kill lists. Frequently, innocent civilians are killed during these operations and the U.S. government simply writes them off as acceptable losses. This killing of innocents is causing a build-up of hatred for the U.S. and is driving the relatives of those victims to further swell the ranks of the terrorist organizations we are supposed to be fighting against.
The end result of our actions is that the United States is being seen as somewhat of a joke. We profess a commitment for human rights across the globe, yet we only cry foul when we need an excuse to invade a country. At the same time, we violate our own principles on a regular basis. Many of the new laws being passed are designed to get around older laws - ones that were put into place specifically to prevent our leaders from performing the actions that they do today. As the U.S. government continues to push its powers to ignore the constitution ever further, the threat of an impending police state looms on the horizon.