October 10th, 2007
04:01 PM ET
9 years ago

Carter: America tortures

Watch Wolf Blitzer's interview with former President Jimmy Carter.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former President Jimmy Carter said Wednesday he is convinced the United States engages in torture that clearly breaches international law and told CNN President Bush creates his own definition of human rights to escape violating them.

"I don't think it. I know it, certainly." the former president told CNN's Wolf Blitzer when asked if he thinks the United States commits torture.

"Our country for the first time in my lifetime has abandoned the basic principle of human rights," Carter continued. "We've said that the Geneva Convention does 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's comments come on the heels of a New York Times report that disclosed the existence of secret Justice Department documents supporting the use of "harsh interrogation techniques" including, according to the Times, "head-slapping, simulated drowning, and frigid temperatures."

Last week, the White House confirmed the existence of the documents though would not make them public. Responding to the report last Friday, Bush defended the techniques used and said, “This government does not torture people.”

Asked about the president'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," Carter added.

Responding to Carter's comments, a senior White House official said, "Our position is clear. We don't torture. It's just sad to hear a former president speak like that."

Watch the full interview with Carter tonight on The Situation Room, 7 p.m. ET. 

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soundoff (279 Responses)
  1. Usman, Toledo OH

    Jon, two things. First off, what happened to Daniel Pearl is abhorrent and Saddam was a horrible person. That doesn't make it ok for us to start using torture. We're supposed to be better than that.

    Second, we're not being targeted because "Clinton gutted the military" ,we're being targeted because of our ridiculous decisions of foreign policy. Even now, we're not going after the root of the terrorist problem, just the symptoms. As for Clinton's having intelligence taking a hands off approach. If you recall, his administration gave a full briefing to Dubya about the potential threat and that OBL should be a top priority. Dubya ignored it.

    October 10, 2007 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  2. VanReuter NY NY

    "Head-slapping, simulated drowning, frigid temperatures"… right… ask Daniel Pearl what he things. Oh wait, his head was sawed off by khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
    Posted By Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca : October 10, 2007 2:09 pm


    Funny story; Turns out that guy had nothing to do with Pearl's horrible murder at the hands of those maniacs. Seems he confessed to EVERYTHING since the kidnap of the Lindbergh baby, UNDER TORTURE! That would be ironic to you if you didn't lack that gene...


    October 10, 2007 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  3. laurinda,ny

    Isn't it kind of relaxing now that the people with all the long writings aren't here. I'm sure they will be back eventually. There were some good ones. Did you notice that you couldn't make heads or tails most of the time about what they were saying. Well thats because they had all these secret codes in their writings.

    October 10, 2007 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  4. Bob, Des Moines, Iowa

    I wish someone would torture Jimmy Carter and make him go away. What an a-hole....

    October 10, 2007 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  5. Charles Wikle

    It is time the PEANUT FARMER went back to the FARM!!!!!!!

    He never got anything right while in the White House so why should we listen to anything he says now.

    October 10, 2007 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  6. Mark C, Asheville NC

    *** Jimmy Carter has a proven track record of NOT emitting 'fear' in our enemies. It took the specter Ronald Reagan to free American hostages in days. ****

    Wow, you're badly misinformed. The hostages were released as the inaugural was taking place, not "days" after Reagan was in office. It was done to deny either President credit for the release, though certainly 100% of the work was done by Carter and his administration.

    It's also been credibly alleged that a treasonous bargain was struck between the Reagan campaign organization and Iran to keep the hostages from being released until after the election.

    October 10, 2007 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  7. MK St. Augustine, FL

    This is no surprise to most of the world...and most Americans.

    We have fallen so far as a once great nation...all at the hands of GWB and his cronies. It will take decades to recover from this criminal administration...if ever.

    We Americans need to unite behind Pres. Carter's truthful words and declare GWB a war criminal. I'd like to see the EU use "extraordinary rendition" to bring GWB to trial for crimes against humanity. Might does not make right.

    October 10, 2007 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  8. john/santa clara/ca

    I guess mr. carter has forgotten the torture thousands of americans went through on 9/11. Eye for an eye.

    October 10, 2007 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  9. David, Milwaukee, WI

    Please, Carter, haven't done enough harm to this country? You were a joke. You ran this country into the ground. Maybe you should make another positive thinking button to help us get through our problems. Idiot. Go away now.

    October 10, 2007 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  10. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    I guess that Nobel peace prize was for nothing? Carter was responsible for the US becoming satan? This low level of intellect is exactly why political candidates all around the country are being summarily dismissed as being too stupid to be democrats. Yes, we're throwing the idiots out and they're all your problem now. The added weight of these morons will surely cause the red party to sink like a rock.

    October 10, 2007 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  11. Bob, Des Moines, Iowa

    Hey Kent. Did Carter hope to be the worst president? You are an idiot...

    October 10, 2007 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  12. Mark C, Asheville NC

    America tortures to prevent terrorism. Problem? What problem??

    Well if you were serving in the military and in danger of being captured by the other side, you might see the problem. But since you're apparently a gutless chickenhawk lacking in any actual principles or honor, I can see why you don't think there's a problem.

    October 10, 2007 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  13. Jack Woehr, Golden, Colorado

    Draft Carter for president in 2008!

    October 10, 2007 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  14. frank, anchorage ak

    Why does he hone in on his own country as if others arent doing the same?? Anti-american is what it is

    October 10, 2007 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  15. Steve curtis

    ""harsh interrogation techniques" including, according to the Times, "head-slapping". Even if it is true, at least we leave them with a head to slap which is more than I can say for the other side.

    October 10, 2007 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  16. Dave Waltemeyer Sr.

    President Jimmy Carter sat on his butt during the Iran hostage taking incident and only when they knew he would the election, did they negotiate and let the hostages go. Why, because they knew this coward was not going to be around, and they would have to deal with a "man" and not a naive child. Iran knew that force was going to be used and they like Carter being cowards gave way to reasoning. This old man needs to go back to Ga. and stop being a disgrace to the office he once held. The fool caused gas lines, recession, and destroyed the intelligence network of the USA. That is why we were perceived as being weak by others. Carter's brother Jimmy would have been just as bad as President.

    October 10, 2007 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |

    USA helped on organized killing 1.5 million Armenians and Kurdish in 1915. USA also helped Turkey killing and torturing Kurdish during 90s by giving them highest # of weapons after other Israel. USA is doing the same in Columbia, and Haiti. Everyone knows Saddam's use of Chemical weapons on his own people was really approved by USA in 1984 March 4th. Though USA condemned that during that period of time, they continued to sell materials to build chemical weapons to Saddam and thus helped Saddam contineously help use chemical weapons on his own people.
    Americans are the best people in the world but American Government is the worst and most torturous existing government in the world.

    October 10, 2007 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  18. Oscar, Rio Vista, CA

    To Jon in Sacramento. You state that you would prefer to endure water-boarding then go back to the days when Jimmy Carter was president. Sounds like you are a complete idiot. All you people that think torture is OK are fools. Just remember.. what goes around, comes around. If it's OK for the U.S. to torture than it's OK for others to torture as well.

    October 10, 2007 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  19. Mark C, Asheville NC

    Hence, the birth of America being labelled "The Great Satan" was born. Thank you, Jimmy Carter.

    Wow, a stunning line of logic there. The reason we were called the Great Satan was that we propped up the murderous Shah in the first place. That wasn't Carter's doing.

    And frankly, there was nothing that could be done. Iran dwarfs Iraq, with 3 times the population and 4 times the land. Given the mess that Dumbya has created in Iraq, imagine what invading Iran would be like.

    October 10, 2007 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  20. Chris, Dallas TX

    President Carter continues to make imprudent comments on a worldwide stage. His opinion means nothing but he is willing to make his opinion seem like a fact.

    The Government has stated that the United States does not torture. Carter's opinion is growing increasingly meaningless based on his actions.

    October 10, 2007 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  21. sonny c. v.p.,la.

    We are NOT the same country that we were follwing WWII. Morally we have lost something & living in denial at the fear of being called unpatriotic will not help us to find our way back. The Republicans seem to be able to live in a state of delsion than Democrats. Until the Moderate wing of that Party starts to love the America I grew up believing existed more than political victories then we'll continue to slide into the abyss as another once Great Empire.

    October 10, 2007 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  22. Willy Brown Chesapeake, VA

    Jimmy boy, you can't rewrite a failed legacy. Go home and enjoy your life.

    October 10, 2007 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  23. Jerry, Chicago IL

    Why are people discounting Carter b/c he was a bad president? Agreed, he was. Now, back to the issue at hand, Bush has thrown the Geneva Convention out the window. How are we going to feel when we see our soldiers being tortured? We won't have much of a leg to stand on...it will be our own fault. And, don't tell me we have to torture to defeat "terrorism."

    October 10, 2007 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  24. Dallas Mathews- Bradenton, Florida

    Jimmy Carter was a miserable failure as president. He continues to spout his left-wing propoganda and undermining the United States. He really should keep his mouth shut and continue farming peanuts, something he knows.

    October 10, 2007 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  25. DT Wisconsin

    "'Our country for the first time in my lifetime has abandoned the basic principle of human rights,' Carter continued."

    Um, internment camps during WWII, anyone?

    October 10, 2007 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
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