Shocking many of his friends on the left, professor Cornel West on Tavis Smiley’s radio show drew comparisons between President Barack Obama and Presidents like George W. Bush and Richard Nixon, referring to Obama as a “war criminal” who is responsible for the deaths of “over 200 children.”
West’s comments came in regards to the current administration’s use of drones for killing terrorism suspects remotely from the air rather than risking American lives to take them prisoner and expose them to a system that is more reflective of due process. A leaked memo obtained by NBC News shed light on the Obama Administration’s previously secret rationale for continuing the controversial program, which authorizes a deadly airstrike if intelligence officials believe it may take out any “senior operational leaders” of al Qaeda or “associated forces,” even if that target is an American citizen.
“I think, my dear brother, the chickens are coming home to roost,” West said. “We’ve been talking about this for a good while, the immorality of drones, dropping bombs on innocent people. It’s been over 200 children so far. These are war crimes.”
West is right on the death toll. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports that up to 216 children have died in three countries the U.S. has not formally declared war on: Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. The Bureau estimates that up to 4,643 people in all have been killed by drone strikes in those three countries.
“I think we have to be very honest, let us not be deceived: Nixon, Bush, Obama, they’re war criminals,” West said. “They have killed innocent people in the name of the struggle for freedom, but they’re suspending the law, very much like Wall Street criminals. The law is suspended for them, but the law applies for the rest of us. You and I, brother Tavis, if we kill an innocent person we go to jail, and we’re going to be in there forever.”
In a recent public discussion on Google Plus, Obama said that no drone strike has ever killed an American on U.S. soil, adding that he’s asking Congress for enhanced oversight of the program.
“I am not somebody who believes that the president has the authority to do whatever he wants, or whatever she wants, whenever they want, just under the guise of counter terrorism,” he said. “There have to be checks and balances on it.”
Listen to Cornel West’s comments in the video below.