I grew up in the Fifties and Sixties, but I really came of political age in the early Seventies, because it was right around that time that I watched the national drama we now know as Watergate as it unfolded. Talk about Reality TV, this was the original! The actual break-in that started the scandal occurred about 2 months prior to my 18th birthday, and Nixon eventually resigned just prior to my 20th. I was a history major in college, and here was history, that I just knew was going to be studied in the future, being played out on our televisions and newspapers. The man we elected to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the land had violated that same Constitution and committed criminal acts in conspiracy with others, then tried to cover it all up. When the smoke cleared the constitutional process envisioned by the likes of Jefferson and Madison had worked. A corrupt president had been forced out of office, and everyone responsible had been charged and convicted of various crimes (save one). The nation breathed a collective sigh of relief, with a sense that we had tested ourselves, and passed with flying colors, and with a knowledge, bordering on certainty, that it couldn’t happen again.
Little did we know.
Vincent Bugliosi has written a book with a challenging title, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. Bugliosi is also the author of numerous other non-fiction books, and is perhaps best remembered as the prosecutor of Charles Manson. The premise of his most recent book is that George W. Bush is responsible for the deaths of over 4000 servicemen and women, not to mention at least a hundred thousand Iraqis. He needlessly invaded the country of Iraq, based on lies. He lied and mislead the American public, Congress, and the rest of the world about the real reasons for invading Iraq, and as a result hundreds of thousands died. He purposely deflected our focus on bin Laden, choosing consciously to stop efforts to bring him to justice “dead or alive”, instead focusing on a country that he knew had nothing to do with 9/11. He allowed Congress to authorize a military invasion, giving them doctored and falsified information and a false sense that he was trying to obtain redress for 9/11. Bugliosi makes a viable argument that while it’s probably too late to impeach him, as the process would take to long, once he’s out of office all of the necessary elements for a sustainable charge of homicide in the first degree exists, which could be prosecuted to a guilty verdict against George W. Bush.
Initially I scoffed at the notion. What District Attorney or U.S. Attorney in their right mind would take on this unprecedented action? And frankly, having finished the book, I can’t see it being done in this political climate. Our current crop of politicians, both Republicans and Democrats, are spineless. But I have to admit that, as I read the book, and especially after reading the voluminous notes, I became convinced that, on paper, it’s doable. Bugliosi has done considerable research into the words and statements of Bush leading up to, during and after the invasion and occupation of Iraq, along with finding corroborating government documents, and it is quite clear that not only can it be proven that Bush knew that what he was advocating was not only misleading, but downright false, before he even gave the order to invade, but that he clearly had the malice necessary to substantiate a conviction for the deaths he knew would result. He could even be given the death penalty in the proper jurisdiction.
However, the value of this book for me was not in the convincing argument for a successful prosecution, but in the exhaustive rendition of the events and information that led to the Bush administration’s decision to start this fateful war, laid out all in one nice neat little package with a ribbon wrapped around it and a bow on top. In effect, it’s an amicus curie brief prepared in advance for any willing prosecutor. All the research, arguments, and answers to anticipated defenses are here for the prosecutorial taking. Here are some interesting tidbits, information and arguments I enjoyed:
- The main thrust of Bush’s reasons for invasion was that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction they refused to give up. However, a classified intelligence report was summarized in a White paper (unclassified) given to Congress before the crucial vote on the war, which watered down the dissenting opinions contained in the classified report, and by taking the supporting opinions and changing them into facts. Bush, Cheney and Rice all were well aware of the unclassified version.
- The second reason justifying the invasion was the implied and sometimes even explicitly stated contention that Saddam Hussein and Al-Queda were linked, and that Iraq was responsible for 9/11, despite the fact that Bush admitted after the invasion that there was no evidence for a 9/11-Iraq link. However, he left everyone under the impression that it was true (as did Cheney and Rice), without correcting it, to the extent that to this day, an astounding 90% of the armed forces in Iraq still believe it.
- I particularly found this quote to be enlightening, referring to the real reason for the war was to simply get rid of the man who tried to have Bush’s father killed (though the evidence for even that is far from certain) and “bring democracy to Iraq”.
“Democracy doesn’t mean simply holding elections….First, you need a democratic culture – a tradition of voluntary associations, a tolerance for nonconformism and pluralism, a shared belief in the dignity of the individual, separation of political power from religious authority and a belief in the legitimacy of dissent.”
- Sounds just like Iraq, doesn’t it?
That’s just a taste. Buglisoi makes a cogent argument for this prosecution however he does so in a way that indicates his extreme hatred for what Bush has done to this country, which tends to undermine his argument a bit, as it almost sounds too personal. But in the end, it is possible, and given the lessons we learned in Watergate, it should be attempted. No President should be above the law. If you compare what Bush did to what Nixon did, there is really no comparison in terms of loss of life. No one died as a result of Nixon’s second rate burglary and cover up. That scandal pales in comparison to 4000 dead soldiers who gave their lives for what? So that Bush’s friends in the oil industry could recover what they lost when the oil industry was nationalized 40 years ago? So that a man with a huge ego and a small brain could stroke the former without exercising the latter?
This country went through a wrenching process 34 years ago, but if we allow Bush to get away with murder, it will all be for nothing.
I’ll leave you with a quote that I had read before, but which I re-discovered near the end of the notes in this book. This is from a book entitled A World Transformed, by George H. W. Bush (his father):
Trying to eliminate Saddam [by] extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq would have incurred incalculable human and political costs…Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land.
Further proof that Bush is not only guilty of murder, but he cannot read.