Amnesty International charged the US on Wednesday with sacrificing basic human rights in the blind pursuit of security.
The watchdog also rapped War-on-Terror partners across the world for jailing suspects unfairly, stamping on legitimate political and religious dissent and squeezing asylum-seekers.
"The global security agenda promoted by the US administration is bankrupt of vision and bereft of principle," Amnesty head Irene Khan said, launching its annual report.
"Violating rights at home, turning a blind eye to abuses abroad and using pre-emptive military force where and when it chooses has damaged justice and freedom - and made the world a more dangerous place."
Amnesty lashed Washington for unlawful killings of Iraqi civilians; questionable arrest and mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and Afghanistan and opposition to the new global criminal court.
"The world is crying out for principled leadership," Khan added, saying the negative effects of US-led anti-terror policies had spread far and wide.
"Governments are losing their moral compass, sacrificing the global values of human rights in a blind pursuit of security."
In Europe and Asia, Amnesty criticised regressive anti-terror legislation, attacks on refugee protection and restrictions on freedom of association and expression.
It singled out Britain for holding 14 foreigners without charge, Spain for closing a Basque-language newspaper, the EU for ignoring human rights in its asylum thinking, and Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan for internal repression.
An Iraqi in Basra rummages
through remains of former home
In China, India, Malaysia, Pakistan and Thailand "the belief ... that human rights could be curtailed under the War on Terror umbrella was particularly apparent," with hundreds of detainees left in legal limbo, Amnesty's report said.
Arab nations also came in for criticism for allowing the transfer of people between states without judicial proceedings.
Pretext of war
"While some states, such as Egypt and Syria, had long-standing states of emergency in place, the War on Terror was used as a pretext to legitimise existing practices, such as long-term administrative detention and unfair trials by special courts whose procedures fell far short of international standards," the annual report said.
"Other states, such as Morocco and Tunisia, introduced new 'anti-terrorism' laws during the year, which posed a further threat to basic human rights."
Amnesty also condemned the "callous, cruel and criminal attacks" by groups such as al-Qaida.
The combined effect of those attacks and states' violations of rights was to create the most serious assault on rights and humanitarian law in half a century and make "a world of growing mistrust, fear and division", it said.
With Iraq and anti-terror policies dominating, world attention has been diverted from old wars, the group also noted.
Conflict in Chechnya, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Nepal remain "a breeding ground for some of the worst atrocities".