US President George W. Bush’s administration tortures detainees in defiance of international law, former US president Jimmy Carter charged Wednesday.
“I don’t think it, I know it, certainly,” Carter told CNN television when asked if he believed the US administration allowed the use of torture.
Carter rejected Bush’s statement last week that the United States does not torture terror suspects.
“That’s not an accurate statement, if you use the international norms of torture as has always been honored, certainly in the last 60 years, since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was promulgated,” Carter said in the interview.
“But you can make your own definition of human rights and say, ‘we don’t violate them.’ And … you can make your own definition of torture and say ‘we don’t violate it,’” said the former Democratic president and Nobel laureate.
Asked if Bush was lying, Carter said: “The president is self-defining what we have done and authorized in the torture of prisoners, yes.”
Those who commit torture were violating international law, Carter said.
The White House rejected Carter’s comments and reiterated that the administration does not condone torture.
“The United States does not torture,” spokeswoman Dana Perino told AFP in an e-mail.
“The president has not authorized it, nor will he. Our interrogation methods are tough, safe, necessary and legal. And our country is being protected,” Perino said.
On Sunday, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the United States appears to be torturing terror suspects.
Interviewed on Fox News Sunday, Pelosi said reported interrogation tactics such as simulated drowning, head slapping and exposure to extreme temperatures all amounted to banned torture.
The New York Times reported last week on a 2005 memo by the Justice Department that allegedly authorized harsh techniques in interrogations of “war on terror” suspects — in the same year that Congress explicitly banned the use of torture.