Former president Jimmy Carter has blasted the United States for anti-terror strategies such as targeting individuals for assassination and using unmanned drones to bomb suspected targets, saying they directly flout the basic tenets of universal human rights and foment anti-US sentiment.
In an article written for the New York Times headlined "A Cruel and Unusual Record", Mr Carter, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his work trying to resolve conflicts around the globe, suggested that the US is in violation of 10 of the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is a rare attack by a former commander-in-chief on a sitting President – especially of the same party.
While Mr Carter does not name President Obama, there is little disguising that he is the principle target of his stinging words. Recent weeks have seen a slew of media reports detailing how Mr Obama has grown increasingly dependent on drones to take out suspected terror cells and describing how he has the final word to approve names on a "hit-list" of most-wanted terror suspects overseas for assassination. "Revelations that top officials are targeting people to be assassinated, including American citizens, are only the most recent, disturbing proof of how far our nation's violation of human rights has extended," Mr Carter wrote, concluding that the US is "abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights".
In the past, Mr Carter, 87, has meted out similar criticisms, most notably George W Bush. This latest assault is embarrassing for Mr Obama as it will serve as a reminder that he specifically pledged to adjust America's posture in the war on terror. He began by banning interrogation techniques he considered to be torture, such as water-boarding, and by closing down Guantanamo Bay. On the latter, of course, he has failed to deliver.
It is poignant, moreover, that both men are Peace Prize winners. Critics believe Mr Obama has proved himself unworthy of the honour which he received soon after taking office. His supporters believe however that he has pre-empted criticism of his foreign policy performance. Under his watch, Osama bin Laden has been killed and much of the top echelons of al-Qa'ida have been gutted.
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