In Monday's Los Angeles Times former President Jimmy Carter warns that under the Bush administration "a host of radical government policies . . . now threaten many basic principles espoused by all previous administrations, Democratic and Republican. These include the rudimentary American commitment to peace, economic and social justice, civil liberties, our environment, and human rights. Also endangered are our historic commitments to providing citizens with truthful information, treating dissenting voices and beliefs with respect, state and local autonomy, and fiscal responsibility. At the same time, our political leaders have declared independence from the restraints of international organizations and have disavowed long-standing global agreements -- including agreements on nuclear arms, control of biological weapons, and the international system of justice." -- These forthright statements are developed at length in a new book by Carter, his first directly political writing since he left office. -- Carter's outspokenness represents a sharp break from the traditional deference past presidents have given to sitting presidents, a fact that "should worry every American," the Toledo Blade commented. -- The Kansas City Star marveled: "Carter appears to have a receptive audience across the country. He learned Friday morning that the book next week will be designated No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list for nonfiction books." -- In a Nov. 3 interview with Chris Matthews, Carter spoke at some length on torture, saying that opposition to torture is "one of the many values that this administration has changed dramatically and profoundly compared to all previous presidents who've ever served, including Ronald Reagan and including George Bush Sr. and including Gerald Ford and all the way back to Dwight Eisenhower. -- I never even considered the fact that our country would be debating whether or not we could continue to torture prisoners around the world in secret prisons. This is something that's inconceivable." -- For speaking out on such issues, the former president is being roundly denounced by voice on the political and religious right. -- For example, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, with which Carter has broken, wrote mordantly that "In Our Endangered Values, he espouses values that are not mine, likely not yours, or those of a majority of Americans in general or Southern Baptists in particular; the 'our' is a limited constituency at best." -- The present president of the Southern Baptist Convention also attacked Carter for issuing "a political and theological call to arms" that "does serve to illustrate the chasm that now grows ever larger between conservative Christians and those who would offer a more 'moderate' understanding of the Christian faith." -- A pro-life web site fretted that Carter was "using abortion to split support for Republicans." -- A videoclip of Carter's appearance on CBS's "Early Show" can be seen here....
THIS ISN'T THE REAL AMERICA
By Jimmy Carter
Los Angeles Times
November 14, 2005
In recent years, I have become increasingly concerned by a host of radical government policies that now threaten many basic principles espoused by all previous administrations, Democratic and Republican.
These include the rudimentary American commitment to peace, economic and social justice, civil liberties, our environment, and human rights.
Also endangered are our historic commitments to providing citizens with truthful information, treating dissenting voices and beliefs with respect, state and local autonomy, and fiscal responsibility.
At the same time, our political leaders have declared independence from the restraints of international organizations and have disavowed long-standing global agreements -- including agreements on nuclear arms, control of biological weapons, and the international system of justice.
Instead of our tradition of espousing peace as a national priority unless our security is directly threatened, we have proclaimed a policy of "preemptive war," an unabridged right to attack other nations unilaterally to change an unsavory regime or for other purposes. When there are serious differences with other nations, we brand them as international pariahs and refuse to permit direct discussions to resolve disputes.
Regardless of the costs, there are determined efforts by top U.S. leaders to exert American imperial dominance throughout the world.
These revolutionary policies have been orchestrated by those who believe that our nation's tremendous power and influence should not be internationally constrained. Even with our troops involved in combat and America facing the threat of additional terrorist attacks, our declaration of "You are either with us or against us!" has replaced the forming of alliances based on a clear comprehension of mutual interests, including the threat of terrorism.
Another disturbing realization is that, unlike during other times of national crisis, the burden of conflict is now concentrated exclusively on the few heroic men and women sent back repeatedly to fight in the quagmire of Iraq. The rest of our nation has not been asked to make any sacrifice, and every effort has been made to conceal or minimize public awareness of casualties.
Instead of cherishing our role as the great champion of human rights, we now find civil liberties and personal privacy grossly violated under some extreme provisions of the Patriot Act.
Of even greater concern is that the U.S. has repudiated the Geneva accords and espoused the use of torture in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay, and secretly through proxy regimes elsewhere with the so-called extraordinary rendition program. It is embarrassing to see the president and vice president insisting that the CIA should be free to perpetrate "cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment" on people in U.S. custody.
Instead of reducing America's reliance on nuclear weapons and their further proliferation, we have insisted on our right (and that of others) to retain our arsenals, expand them, and therefore abrogate or derogate almost all nuclear arms control agreements negotiated during the last 50 years. We have now become a prime culprit in global nuclear proliferation. America also has abandoned the prohibition of "first use" of nuclear weapons against nonnuclear nations, and is contemplating the previously condemned deployment of weapons in space.
Protection of the environment has fallen by the wayside because of government subservience to political pressure from the oil industry and other powerful lobbying groups. The last five years have brought continued lowering of pollution standards at home and almost universal condemnation of our nation's global environmental policies.
Our government has abandoned fiscal responsibility by unprecedented favors to the rich, while neglecting America's working families. Members of Congress have increased their own pay by $30,000 per year since freezing the minimum wage at $5.15 per hour (the lowest among industrialized nations).
I am extremely concerned by a fundamentalist shift in many houses of worship and in government, as church and state have become increasingly intertwined in ways previously thought unimaginable.
As the world's only superpower, America should be seen as the unswerving champion of peace, freedom, and human rights. Our country should be the focal point around which other nations can gather to combat threats to international security and to enhance the quality of our common environment. We should be in the forefront of providing human assistance to people in need.
It is time for the deep and disturbing political divisions within our country to be substantially healed, with Americans united in a common commitment to revive and nourish the historic political and moral values that we have espoused during the last 230 years.
--Jimmy Carter was the 39th president of the United States. His newest book is Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis, published this month by Simon & Schuster.
CARTER'S BREAK WITH 'TRADITION
November 13, 2005
One of the great unwritten rules of modern political life is that former presidents do not publicly criticize the policies of a sitting successor.
So when a man regarded as one of the most gentlemanly of former presidents breaks that rule, members of both parties should take notice. Former President Jimmy Carter has aggressively criticized President Bush in his self-described "first" political book, Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis.
The book reveals a different Jimmy Carter than the pleasant, conciliatory soul the nation has come to know since he left office in 1981. There's outrage and disgust for what he sees as the sins of the Bush White House.
He attacks Mr. Bush's "arrogance," and as a Christian, Mr. Carter insists Mr. Bush is using his "fundamentalism" to take the nation on a path it doesn't want to go. The former president maintains that unyielding partisanship has overcome civility in government, and that deficit spending is out of control.
Mr. Carter also expresses anger and distress about the nation's policies abroad.
The invasion of nations that don't pose a direct threat to America is lamentable, he believes, as are long-term peace agreements that have effectively been dismissed.
The White House has abandoned human-rights agreements while graying the lines between church and state, and it worries him that Americans' civil liberties are being restricted, that the administration might have secret prisons abroad, and that it opposes a congressional ban on torture of foreign prisoners.
"I never dreamed we'd ever even consider that," he said. "I have been reluctant to criticize this President. But this President has radically departed from [the policies] of all previous presidents."
Harsh words indeed from one member of the club to another.
Mr. Carter certainly knows something about low job approval ratings. His lowest rating as president was 28 percent, worse than Mr. Bush's.
But perhaps because he knows what the roller-coaster ride is like, Jimmy Carter's insights into the effect of President Bush's policies, at home and abroad, should worry every American.
CARTER SIGNS BOOKS, CRITICIZES BUSH
By Steve Kraske and Scott Canon
Kansas City Star
November 12, 2005
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/politics/13148030.htm (registration required)
[PHOTO CAPTION: Carter rarely paused to shake hands Friday morning as he scribbled his name hundreds of times at Unity Temple on the Plaza. His new book is expected to be No. 1 on a nonfiction best-seller list next week.]
In his first 19 books, Jimmy Carter didnt write many words about politics.
But the former president and Nobel Peace Prize winner said Friday in Kansas City that he was too hot to remain silent any longer.
I felt so disturbed and angry about this radical change in America that I have always loved and still love, he told reporters Friday at Unity Temple on the Country Club Plaza.
The result is Our Endangered Values: Americas Moral Crisis, which Carter called his first political book. The group responsible for that moral crisis, the nations 39th president asserted, is the Bush administration.
Carter cited several concerns: Bushs pre-emptive war policy; the administrations quiet fight to keep torture an option in how certain prisoners are treated in captivity; the breakdown in the wall separating church and state; the ballooning budget deficit; the lack of attention to the environment.
This administration has injected into the American political system a dramatic, unprecedented, and profound change in the basic values of our national policy, he said in an interview.
Carter insisted his disagreement has nothing to do with partisan politics. George W. Bushs policies have charted a new direction different from anything Bushs father did in office, and different from previous GOP presidents Ford, Reagan, and Eisenhower.
About 1,200 people stood in line to have copies of the book signed. For most of his two-hour appearance, Carter rapidly signed books, rarely pausing to shake hands. He did not speak to the audience, but he did field questions for about 10 minutes from reporters.
At one point, Carter greeted U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Kansas City Democrat. Seated close to the front was former U.S. Rep. Karen McCarthy, Cleavers predecessor.
Carter appears to have a receptive audience across the country. He learned Friday morning that the book next week will be designated No. 1 on the *New York Times* best-seller list for nonfiction books.
Carter, a worldwide traveler, said: Everywhere you go, you hear, What has happened to the United States of America? We thought you used to be the champion of human rights. We thought you used to protect the environment. We thought you used to believe in the separation of church and state.
Thats not the case anymore, Carter said.
Hardball with Chris Matthews
JIMMY CARTER WEIGHS IN ON CIA 'SECRET PRISONS'
November 3, 2005
If you believe in the adage, 'It takes one to know one,' then, perhaps, the only person to offer true analysis of the Bush administration is a former president.
America's 39th president, Jimmy Carter, has been an outspoken critic of the Bush Administrations policies, particularly the war in Iraq and interrogation tactics. After serving from 1977 to 1981, he has worked tirelessly around the world on issues such as international conflict resolution, poverty, health care and social justice, earning him a Nobel Peace Prize in the year 2002. His latest book is entitled, Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis.
President Jimmy Carter sat down with Chris Matthews to discuss his views on the recent revelation about the existence of CIA "secret prisons" and related interrogation tactics.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HARDBALL HOST: Our Endangered Values -- are they endangered to some extent because of this new story we read in the paper, that the United States, the CIA has been setting up these prison camps unknown to the world, around the world, to keep the terrorists hostage?
JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes. That's one of the many values that this administration has changed dramatically and profoundly compared to all previous presidents who's ever served, including Ronald Reagan and including George Bush Sr. and including Gerald Ford and all the way back to Dwight Eisenhower.
I never even considered the fact that our country would be debating whether or not we could continue to torture prisoners around the world in secret prisons. This is something that's inconceivable.
But I notice that the administration now is pushing hard to get Congress not to approve the John McCain proposal, supported by 90 out of 100 senators, that we not resort to torture. This administration is insisting that we resort to torture, which I think is a profound change in our basic moral values, just one of many.
MATTHEWS: Isn't that Dick Cheney, the vice president's position? He basically taken the ramrod position in defending it?
CARTER: Well, he has. I think that's an open fact that everybody knows. He been to senators and they have made it public that he has urged them to permit the CIA to continue torturing prisoners.
MATTHEWS: Why are you opposed to torturing prisoners?
CARTER: Well, first of all, it's against a basic human rights commitment that was made 50 years ago when the United Nations were first formed, and every country has agreed to abide by this restraint, including every president who served for the last 50 years.
It also besmirches America position as the so-called former champion of human rights. There's not a single major human rights organization in the world that's not now condemning America as one of the foremost violators of basic human rights.
And it's not only just overseas in prisons for torture, but we have also done the same thing at home in doing away with civil liberties and incarcerating about 1,200 people after 9/11 who were not ever accused of a crime, who couldn't have access to a lawyer, who couldn't see their own family. They were finally -- some of them secretly released.
But these kind of secret things that have been, I guess, excluded from the knowledge of even the overwhelming members of the Congress has now been revealed, and I think it brings about a lot of knowledge about what this administration has done that we didn't know before.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the case of the guy who was picked up right before 9/11 up in Minnesota, asking to take flying lessons in the most sophisticated commercial aircraft -- not how to take off, not how to land, but how to fly the plane. Had we had him in custody, or you had, had him in custody as president and commander-in-chief, wouldn't you have liked to interrogate him pretty harshly to find out what was coming? Wouldn't it be justified -- if he knew the story and what was coming to those people in the World Trade Center and at the Pentagon, wouldn't we be better off torturing this guy to find out what was coming?
CARTER: Well, I think as Senator John McCain has explained very well, in the first place, when you torture somebody -- and I think I would be the same way -- you would probably confess to your interrogators' allegations just so they would quit torturing you.
CARTER: So, therefore, in any trial court in the civilized world, testimony given by a person being tortured is prohibited as testimony, because they know that it's under duress and you say something just so they quit beating you over the head, or whatever, twisting your arm.
Also, it brings about discredit for the reputation of America as a country that believes in justice and fairness and abides by international structures that have been put forward.
I have a personal feeling about this because my favorite uncle was captured by the Japanese less than a month after Pearl Harbor, Tom Gordy. He was in the Navy, on Guam, and he was tortured for four years and finally released at the end of the war.
It was only at the end of the Second World War that people assembled in Geneva and confirmed in writing with the whole world agreeing, we agree not to torture prisoners who are taken in wartime.
So this not only protects enemy prisoners who we have captured, but it also sets down a marker that if you capture one of our prisoners, you don't torture them.
MATTHEWS: The reason I bring this up is because Professor Alan Dershowitz up at Harvard has said that when there are extreme cases, when there's about to be something coming down, a major terrorist attack, we've got to take extreme measures to stop it from happening, including this kind of thing.
You can foresee a problem as commander-in-chief where you really just have to say, "Damn it, I don't like doing this, it's awful, it's un-American, but we got to stop this from coming, we got to find out what's coming up here"?
CARTER: No, I don't agree that that's a good premise because, as I said before -- I don't mean to repeat myself -- under torture, you will confess to almost anything that your torturers want you to say.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this. There's a great quote in your book, and I don't know if it's true or not.
Your new book, Our Endangered Values: "This sharp and growing difference over the issue of whether international disputes can be better resolved by diplomacy or by military action is now the most accurate predictor of party affiliation -- more important than gay marriage, homosexuality, or abortion."
In other words, you can tell if a person is a Democrat or a Republican, where they tend to think, let's go in, let's use force, or Democrats, let's try diplomacy.
CARTER: That's exactly right. And that's confirmed by all the major public opinion polls, which I studied for a couple of months before I wrote that paragraph.
That's absolutely right. And it's an honest different of opinion.
Most of these departures from basic moral values are held by very deeply committed people who believe they are absolutely right.
A lot of people believe in the Republican Party that if you have a strong military, the best way to meet American needs or to implement our influence around the world is to take military action.
Most Democrats believe that it's better to use military action only if our security is directly threatened, but to use negotiation, mediation, and forming alliances as a best approach.
That difference is the major single difference that distinguishes Democrats from Republicans.
MATTHEWS: If the current crowd running the country now, President Bush and Vice President Cheney and all the ideologues they have working with them, were in power during the Cuban missile crisis, what do you think they would have done based upon what you just said?
CARTER: I think they would probably have gone to war. And I think . . .
MATTHEWS: Instead of handling it diplomatically the way Kennedy did.
CARTER: I think John Kennedy did it perfectly well, by being diplomatic about it. But one of the . . .
MATTHEWS: You think they would have just invaded Cuba?
CARTER: That's just conjecture.
MATTHEWS: Well, you just said that's the way they go about things.
CARTER: But I am talking about the modern-day Republicans. You have to remember, too, that this is something that has been mirrored in public statements by the president.
We have known for 200 -- well, at least for 100 years, I wouldn't say all the way back to the Indian times -- that the United States government had the policy under Democratic and Republican presidents, we will go to war as approved by the international agreements if our own security is directly threatened. That particular premise concerning peace has been abandoned.
CARTER: We now have preemptive war, which means we will go to war, we will bomb people, we will send missiles in to attack people, we invade countries if we disagree with their leader and think he ought to be removed or if we think that someday in the future they might pose a military threat to us.
That's a complete and unprecedented and dramatic change in basic values of America.
MATTHEWS: Do you think if we had 50 hostages taken in Iran today, what do you think this administration would do? Use diplomatic means -- it was kind of embarrassing, to put it lightly, for a year for you.
CARTER: It was.
MATTHEWS: You may have lost the presidency over this. Most people think you did.
CARTER: But every hostage came home.
MATTHEWS: This administration -- right. Would this administration have put up with that, or would they have gone into Iran?
CARTER: That's just conjecture. I think they would probably have gone in, because that's now a new policy -- let's take military action in effect first, not wait until our security is threatened.
MATTHEWS: What about the exception of genocide? Shouldn't we invade if we see situations like Rwanda or even in Kosovo, where you have situations where one ethnic group is destroying another group, killing them all? Shouldn't there be exceptions to this non-intervention policy?
CARTER: Well, I think that may be true.
But there again, there is a reticence here in international circles that I think is very wise, and that is that you go before the United Nations Security Council -- and the United Nations is condemned by a lot of the people who disagree with my book -- and you put this forward and say, look, there is likely to be genocide in this country. Let's marshal an international attempt to correct it.
That's what George Bush did when Iraq went into Kuwait. He didn't go in unilaterally. He got the whole world to help.
MATTHEWS: Do you think President Bush, Sr., the first President Bush was pretty good at diplomatic efforts?
I think he was one of the best presidents I have ever known in international affairs.