In an interview with CNN, former President Jimmy Carter said he believes that the United States has tortured detainee and that President Bush has authorized the abuse, which he said violates international laws.
Despite that, Carter said formal charges or a trial “would be inappropriate.”
Addressing Iraq, he said that all 168,000 U.S. troops could be withdrawn in 18 months and that he disagreed with the 2013 timetable proposed by fellow Democrats Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama.
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Here are excerpts from the interview with Wolf Blitzer:
Regarding the Bush administration and allegations of torture:
BLITZER: President Bush said as recently as this week the United States does not torture detainees.
CARTER: 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. But you can make your own definition of human rights and say, we don’t violate them. And we can — you can make your own definition of torture and say we don’t violate it.
BLITZER: But by your definition, you believe the United States, under this administration, has used torture.
CARTER: I don’t think it, I know it, certainly.
BLITZER: So is the president lying?
CARTER: The president is self-defining what we have done and authorized in the torture of prisoners, yes.
BLITZER: But that raises a really important question. Those who are engaged in torture, who commit torture, potentially that could be a violation of international or other laws.
CARTER: Yes, I think so.
Regarding “holding someone accountable” for violations of international laws:
CARTER: Well, I think we — the best way to hold people accountable in this country is through the election process.
BLITZER: That is the best way to get — in other words, from your perspective, to get rid of the incumbent administration and move on. But you don’t want to see any formal charges or a trial…
CARTER: No, I don’t think so. I think that would be inappropriate. That has been done in some cases, as you know, but I don’t think it is appropriate at all.
Regarding leaving Iraq and Republicans wanting “to stay there permanently”:
BLITZER: So on this issue, you disagree with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
CARTER: Absolutely. We ought to get out earlier than 2013.
BLITZER: How quickly do you think the U.S., realistically, could withdraw all 168,000 troops from Iraq?
CARTER: I think over an 18-month period, we could be totally out, if that’s our desire, but I never have seen anybody in this current administration or the Republican candidates advocate that we ever get out of Iraq. I think they want to stay there permanently.