Comment: Jimmy Carter savages US foreign policy over drone strikes

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Jimmy Carter savages US foreign policy over drone strikes

Former president calls on Washington to regain moral leadership in wake of drone strikes and targeted assassinations.

At a time when popular revolutions are sweeping the globe, the US should be strengthening, not weakening "basic rules of law and principles of justice", Carter says in the paper on Monday. His criticisms, just months before Obama hopes to regain the White House in November's presidential election, lambast the use of drones and detention.

Attacks on human rights after the terrorist atrocities of 9/11, have been "sanctioned and escalated by bipartisan executive and legislative actions, without dissent from the general public", says the Nobel peace prizewinner. "As a result, our country can no longer speak with moral authority on these critical issues."

Carter adds: "While the country has made mistakes in the past, the widespread abuse of human rights over the last decade has been a dramatic change from the past."

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948 with US leadership, "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 counter-terrorism 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 US legislation has made legal the president's right to detain a person indefinitely on suspicion of affiliation with terrorist organisations or "associated forces", Carter says. "This law violates the right to freedom of expression and to be presumed innocent until proved guilty, two other rights enshrined in the declaration."