Home > Law, Politics > Change We Can Believe In, XXXIII

Change We Can Believe In, XXXIII

Change We Can Believe In: Abandoning Moral Authority

Jimmy Carter says it all, in today’s NYT op-ed piece:

THE United States is abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights.

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. …

[snip]

Recent legislation has made legal the president’s right to detain a person indefinitely on suspicion of affiliation with terrorist organizations or “associated forces,” a broad, vague power that can be abused without meaningful oversight from the courts or Congress …

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. Popular state laws permit detaining individuals because of their appearance, where they worship or with whom they associate.

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. …

These policies clearly affect American foreign policy. Top intelligence and military officials, as well as rights defenders in targeted areas, affirm that the great escalation in drone attacks has turned aggrieved families toward terrorist organizations, aroused civilian populations against us and permitted repressive governments to cite such actions to justify their own despotic behavior.

… [I]nstead of making the world safer, America’s violation of international human rights abets our enemies and alienates our friends.

Of course, Bush and Cheney deserve a lot of the credit for this state of affairs, with assists from Congress and countless government officials. But it’s Obama who has taken rogue policies of partisan leaders and made them the bipartisan consensus. It’s Obama who has crafted drone warfare into his own distinctive program. It’s Obama who has insisted on unquestioned authority to do what he deems necessary. Some change.

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Categories: Law, Politics
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