Carter writes in The New York Times that targeted assassinations of individuals deemed a direct threat to national security, including U.S. citizens, is a "disturbing" trend.
Washington uses policies enacted after the 2001 attacks by al-Qaida to justify its policies against suspected terrorists.
Carter writes that since those attacks, bipartisan executive and legislative actions have endorsed the direct targeting of suspected terrorists "without dissent" from the U.S. constituency. As a result, he writes, Washington "can no longer speak with moral authority" on critical human rights issues.
Authorities at the United Nations in October said there were troubling trends in counter-terrorism operations, where some conflicts know no borders. Last week, Amnesty International said U.S. justification for its targeted kill operations weakens U.S. credibility in the human rights arena.
"As concerned citizens, we must persuade Washington to reverse course and regain moral leadership according to international human rights norms that we had officially adopted as our own and cherished throughout the years," writes Carter.