Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Carter: Obama's Cruel and Unusual Record

We have previously discussed the horrible civil liberties and foreign policy record of the Obama Administration. Generally speaking, many liberals or progressives have assiduously ignored these things or blindly bleated that the Republicans would be worse. Some have argued that the President has access to information that we don't so we must trust him. Well maybe. But President Carter isn't having it. In a NYT column in which he never mentions President Obama by name he tears apart the post-9/11 dismantling of human rights and rule of law, which as he sees it, President Obama has accelerated.

This a really good read and you should check it out. I don't have a lot to say about this mostly because I've said it all before and somewhat because I happen to be in a bit of a pickle on the day job.
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. As a result, our country can no longer speak with moral authority on these critical issues.  
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. After more than 30 airstrikes on civilian homes this year in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai has demanded that such attacks end, but the practice continues in areas of Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen that are not in any war zone. We don’t know how many hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed in these attacks, each one approved by the highest authorities in Washington. This would have been unthinkable in previous times.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 will say that Carter's elegy for the US role as protector of human rights and guarantor of law is an excellent reminder that some values are above and beyond partisanship. There are greater goals for the republic than whether or not a Democrat or Republican is in the White House this time next year. Some things are just wrong no matter who is doing them. And the arc of the country does not seem to bending towards an appreciation of that fact or towards a limited executive branch power. Carter sounds quite close to Tariq Ali's analysis in a review we did some time ago.

You can read the entire piece here. There are good reasons why people who cherish civil liberties may not see either major party presidential candidate as worthy of their vote in the fall election. But ultimately I think both candidates reflect a spreading moral rot in the American body politic. Unfortunately, thanks to human nature, people only tend to see these dangers when it's the other party that is involved in making mincemeat out of constitutional and legal provisions. The Republicans who found new appreciation for Congress as an equal branch of government once Obama was elected are matched by Democrats who suddenly realized that the unitary executive theory wasn't a bad idea, so long as Obama was President that is. So it goes.

What's your take?
Is Carter right?
Do you think it is correct for him to criticize (implicitly) the previous two Presidents?
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