“The United States is abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights,” former President Jimmy Carter wrote in a June 24 op-ed in the New York Times, charging the United States government with assassination attempts through the use of drones and massive domestic surveillance against the privacy rights of American citizens. But Carter cited the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights rather than the U.S. Bill of Rights as the inspiration to follow and restore a respect for the inalienable rights of others.
In the column, Carter correctly pointed out: “Revelations that top officials are targeting people to be assassinated abroad, including American citizens, are only the most recent, disturbing proof of how far our nation’s violation of human rights has extended. This development began after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and has been sanctioned and escalated by bipartisan executive and legislative actions, without dissent from the general public.”
Except for the last part about there being no dissent from the general public (this magazine can be counted among the sharpest critics of these human-rights abuses), Carter hit the mark exactly. He added that surveillance against American citizens are now unbridled by any restrictions of warrants or probable cause:
In addition to American citizens’ being targeted for assassination or indefinite detention, recent laws have canceled the restraints in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to allow unprecedented violations of our rights to privacy through warrantless wiretapping and government mining of our electronic communications. Despite an arbitrary rule that any man killed by drones is declared an enemy terrorist, the death of nearby innocent women and children is accepted as inevitable.
And no true defender of the Constitution can say that Carter is in the slightest bit wrong on any of these points. But where the former President goes wrong is in not pointing to the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution as the example to return to on human rights:
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Photo: Jimmy Carter: AP Images