October 10th, 2007
04:01 PM ET
13 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. Z., Champaign, IL

    "Jimmy Carter is single-handedly responsible for the nation of Iran."
    – Rush Limbaugh

    That is literally THE best quote of the year.

    October 12, 2007 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  2. Dan, Coral Gables, FL

    As always, Carter is naive in his comprehension of the world and irresponsible in his commentary. His comments and behaviour on multiple topics from Guantanamo, Cuba, Venezuela and the Mideast at times make one wonder if he was educated in another dimension. Let's be greatful he wasn't at the helm in WW2.

    October 14, 2007 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  3. Chuck, Cypress, Ca

    I got some torture for ya. One softball interview after another with Jimmy Carter. Hey CNN, why don't you ask the guy who ushered in the Iranian theocracy, why he won't debate Dershowitz, or anyone else about gas line Carter's anti-Israel book? He writes a book to supposedly stimulate a debate, and then he refuses to participate in any such debate. It's so Jimmy!

    November 4, 2007 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  4. Chuck, Cypress, Ca

    So let me see if I've got this straight. Because Jimmy Carter has built houses for Habitat For Humanity, he is therefore above reproach, or criticism. Carter builds a house and then burns down two. You do some construction work, and that's supposed to compensate for single handedly being responsible for the nation of Iran? You do some good deeds, and then you get to bash Israel, and pontificate about human rights, and then refuse to debate anyone who challenges you. Jimmy Carter would probably bash Israel even if he wasn’t receiving millions from an assorted variety of Middle Eastern Arab organizations, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility, it would seem, that receiving millions from people who would like to see Israel driven into the sea, while bashing that pea sized country on a continual basis, might present a possible conflict of interest. I must remember if I ever want to do engage in some truly dastardly, and despicable behavior, to first do a few very public good deeds, so no one can criticize me.

    November 4, 2007 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
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