[JURIST] Former US President Jimmy Carter [official profile; JURIST news archive] said Wednesday that under the Bush administration the United States "for the first time in my lifetime has abandoned the basic principles of human rights". He told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in an interview [recorded video]: "We've said that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to these 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." Responding directly to the latest White House assertions in the face of newly-disclosed Department of Justice memos that the US does not use torture [JURIST reports], the former Democratic chief executive said "that's not an accurate statement if you use the international norms of torture...[Y]ou can make your own definition of torture and say you don't violate it." Asked if he thought the US had in fact used torture in the Bush years, Carter countered: "I don't think it. I know it. Certainly." He added, however, that he did not think formal charges or trials of administration officials were appropriate ways of addressing the problem, preferring electoral change. CNN has more.
Carter, co-founder along with former First Lady Rosalynn Carter of the Carter Center [advocacy website] on human rights, has recently been highly critical of the Republican Bush administration on issues such as domestic surveillance [JURIST report], the Iraq war [JURIST report], and the Guantanamo Bay military prison [JURIST report].