Cornel West believes that President Barack Obama is a war criminal, who should be held responsible for the death of civilians at the hands of the U.S military. Speaking on his public radio show with co-host Tavis Smiley, West heavily criticized the tactics employed by Obama in the war on terror, and the government’s ability to authorize the killing of American citizens involved in terrorist activity.
“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.”
“I think we have to be very honest, let us not be deceived. Nixon, Bush, Obama, they’re war criminals,” West added. “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.”
Thursday was not the first time West voiced his grievances over the president’s conduct, having labeled the president “a disastrous response to a catastrophe,” prior to last year’s election. Later, he condemned the use of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Bible during the inaugural ceremony. West feels that the president should be held accountable to the same extent that regular citizens are, telling Smiley, “If we kill an innocent person, we’re going to jail, and we goin’ be in there forever.”
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The law in question allows Obama to authorize the killing of an American citizen operating as a senior al-Qaida leader, directly involved with plans to kill fellow Americans. A document leaked from the U.S. Department of Justice based the president’s authority on his duty to protect American lives, describing the targeting such Americans as “lawful killing in self-defense.”
West joins a large group of critics demanding transparency in the government’s use of drone strikes, something that Obama promised during the State of the Union address Tuesday.
Protests against the use of unmanned drone strikes often cite the number of civilian casualties caught in attacks. The release of the DOJ report put the program into question even further, leading to the delay of a vote on the appointment of CIA director nominee John Brennan.