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Drones Kill 200 Children: Obama Called 'War Criminal'


February 20, 2013
Archbishop Desmond Tutu / New York Times & Dan Hirschhorn / New York Daily News & The Associated Press & CommonDreams

Princeton professor Cornel West has taken sharp issue with the White House's covert drone program. The drones have killed 'over 200 children so far,' West says. 'These are war crimes.' Meanwhile, Obama's CIA nominee says he is 'open' to the idea of a 'special court' to decide on drone assassination targets -- i.e., a 'death panel.'

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/cornel-west-president-obama-war-criminal-article-1.1265163

A Letter from Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu
To the Editor of the New York Times:

ABOARD THE MV EXPLORER, near Hong Kong (February 11, 2013) -- I am deeply, deeply disturbed at the suggestion in "A Court to Vet Kill Lists" (news analysis, front page, Feb. 9) that possible judicial review of President Obama's decisions to approve the targeted killing of suspected terrorists might be limited to the killings of American citizens.

Do the United States and its people really want to tell those of us who live in the rest of the world that our lives are not of the same value as yours? That President Obama can sign off on a decision to kill us with less worry about judicial scrutiny than if the target is an American? Would your Supreme Court really want to tell humankind that we, like the slave Dred Scott in the 19th century, are not as human as you are? I cannot believe it.

I used to say of apartheid that it dehumanized its perpetrators as much as, if not more than, its victims. Your response as a society to Osama bin Laden and his followers threatens to undermine your moral standards and your humanity.


Desmond Tutu is archbishop emeritus of Cape Town and the winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize.



Cornel West: President Obama a 'War Criminal'
Dan Hirschhorn / New York Daily News

NEW YORK (February 15, 2013) -- Princeton professor Cornel West says President Obama is a "war criminal."

West, the prominent black academic and activist who has consistently been a harsh Obama critic, took issue with the White House's covert drone program, saying that "the chickens are coming home to roost."

"We've been talking about this for a good while, the immorality of drones, dropping bombs on innocent people," West said on his "Smiley & West" radio show with Tavis Smiley.

"It's been over 200 children so far," West said. "These are war crimes."

West, who has previously said that "brother Barack was just completely mesmerized by the acceptance of the establishment," compared Obama to former Presidents George W. Bush and Richard Nixon.

"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."

danh@nydailynews.com


Brennan Open to Special Court for Drone Strikes
The Associated Press & The Boston Herald

WASHINGTON February 15, 2013 -- The White House nominee to run the CIA said setting up a special court to oversee deadly drone strikes against American citizens is worth considering but raises difficult questions over how much authority it would have in decisions currently made by the president.

Expanding on his testimony a week ago, John Brennan said the White House and other agencies had discussed the idea, when coming up with the process to determine which al-Qaida targets go on a capture-or-kill lists for the CIA and the military.

"It would raise some novel, and potentially difficult, questions and furthermore would grant courts authority over decisions that have traditionally been exercised principally, if not exclusively, by the executive branch," Brennan said. "Nevertheless, given the stakes involved and the consequence of such determinations...all options are worth considering."

His new comments were included Friday in written answers to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The panel is considering whether to approve Brennan's nomination for a full Senate vote.

Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein has said she is considering legislation to set up a special court system to regulate drone strikes. It would be similar to the court that signs off on government surveillance in espionage and terrorism cases.

Brennan also said he believes the number of civilians killed in U.S. strikes targeting al-Qaida should be made public, and he described how the U.S. works to determine whether there were civilian casualties in drone strikes, drawing on "human intelligence, signals intelligence, media reports, and surveillance footage.

"In those rare instances in which civilians have been killed, after-action reviews have been conducted to identify corrective actions and to minimize the risk of innocents being killed or injured in the future," he wrote. "Where possible, we also work with local governments to gather facts and, if appropriate, provide condolence payments to families of those killed."

Brennan repeated assertions made by President Barack Obama that drone strikes would not be used by American citizens inside the U.S., and that they are not used if it's possible to capture a suspect.

"This Administration has not carried out drone strikes inside the United States and has no intention of doing so," he said.

Feinstein delayed voting on Brennan's post for roughly two weeks, at the request of lawmakers who want more information on the White House's legal policy governing targeted killing, and last year's terrorist attack that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

Committee members have been given access to only four out of a total of 11 classified legal Justice Department memos justifying the use of targeted killing of terror suspects overseas. The White House would not comment on their request this week.

On the web: http://intelligence.senate.gov/130207/posthearing.pdf


'Let Us Not Be Deceived': Cornel West Names Obama as 'War Criminal'
Like Nixon, Bush, and others, the law is suspended for the president, but "applies for the rest of us"

Jon Queally / CommonDreams

(February 15, 2013) -- Philosophy professor, social critic and activist Cornel West says that like Richard Nixon and George W. Bush, there is no way to avoid the conclusion that President Obama -- due to his execution of foreign wars and direction of clandestine military operations overseas resulting in the direct and foreseeable death of innocent people -- should be called out for what he is: a 'war criminal'.

Appearing on Tavis Smiley's radio program on Thursday, 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," he said.

A once ardent supporter of the president -- campaigning strongly for Obama during his presidential run in 2008 -- West has been critical of a number of aspects of the president's policies since taking office, including his refusal to adequately address poverty in the United States even as his administration acted mightily to save large financial institutions and Wall Street banks.

West's comments on US foreign policy came as Smiley spoke about the ongoing confirmation process of John Brennan, Obama's nomination to run the CIA and chief architect of the ongoing drone ass
assination program and what the radio host termed the president's "license to kill".
"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."

Just this week in Afghanistan, five children were killed and five more wounded when a suspected missile from a US drone exploded in Kunar province. Four adult women were also reported killed in the attack along with a number of adult males who may or may not have been the intended targets.

Making the point, West concluded, "You or I, brother Travis, if we kill an innocent person, we're going to jail. And we're going to be in there forever."


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