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Review :: Human Rights : Politics : War and Militarism
The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder
by Gregg Mosson
20 Jul 2008
Former L.A. County District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi has written a book outlining how to bring murder charges against President George W. Bush after the president leaves office. This article reviews Bugliosi's arguments.
Former L.A. County District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi has written a book outlining arguments for establishing court jurisdiction and presenting a case in order to convict George W. Bush for murder. The case specifically would convict Bush for the murder of American soldiers who have died in Iraq.
Bugliosi offers an outline for how to prosecute the crime of selling and launching the Iraq war. His argument broadly states that 1) because the President commenced a war under false pretenses, 2) he deliberately brought into harm’s way American soldiers, 3) and so Bush is guilty of murdering Americans in an illegal military campaign. His case is built on current U.S. law and will be outlined further in this article.
The case begins as soon as Sept. 12, 2001 when—according to Ramsey Clarke, the top U.S. counter-terrorism officer at the time—President Bush learned that Al Qaeda was behind the 9-11 attacks, yet told Clarke to recheck his evidence to look for any connection between Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and 9-11.
Bugliosi as L.A. County District Attorney won 105 out of 106 cases. He won 21 out of 21 murder cases. He was the lead prosecutor on the famous Charles Manson murder cases, which in turn made him famous through his book “Helter Skelter.” His new book “The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder” is not a legal brief for judges, nor is it a rant. Bugliosi makes an argument for jurisdiction, and then carefully lays out overwhelming circumstantial evidence to convict the President and those who helped him, beyond a reasonable doubt, for murder.
The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder
by Vincent Bugliosi
Vanguard Press (MA 2008)
ESTABLISHING JURISDICTION FOR A MURDER TRIAL
Bugliosi says any state attorney and many county-level district attorneys could prosecute George W. Bush for murder (18 USC 1111) and conspiracy to commit murder (18 USC 1117). To establish jurisdiction for murder, a U.S. soldier who died in Iraq would have to be from that state, or from that local county. According to Bugliosi, every U.S. state has lost at least one resident to the war in Iraq. The U.S. Attorney General also could file a case in Washington D.C.
Because the U.S. Constitution provides impeachment as the means to address high crimes and misdemeanors—but does not forbid further criminal prosecution thereafter—Bugliosi theorizes that any prosecutor would have to wait until the president leaves office to begin their case.
Bugliosi spends a great deal of the book citing specific circumstantial evidence that George W. Bush and his administration lied to Congress and the public to make America think Iraq was a threat to the United States. If lying is proven, it makes the war an aggressive illegal action. As a result, murder charges and conspiracy to commit murder charges can go forward. Conspiracy to commit murder charges also can go forward against those surrounding President G. W. Bush who conspired to help him to sell the Iraq war as preemptive action. Preemptive action includes the logic of self-defense. On the flip side, argues Bugliosi, George W. Bush must prove he sincerely thought Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat to support a self-defense argument against murder charges.
Even if the president did lie, one might argue, he and others only fanned the flames of war. U.S. soldiers were killed by Iraqis and others, and so murder does not apply to the White House. Well, Bugliosi points out that under the “innocent agent” doctrine of U.S. law, if a person causes someone to be killed by an innocent agent of their scheme, that principal person is guilty of murder. This innocent agent doctrine is established under the U.S. law 18 USC 2(b), and was upheld in the 1993 case Gallimore v. Commonwealth of Virginia. In this framework, George W. Bush’s launching of war caused the innocent agents of the Iraqis to fight back and kill American soldiers. Bush is “criminally responsible for the thousands of American deaths in Iraq,” writes Bugliosi.
ON THE U.S. CONSTITUTION
Despite conservative legal theories currently casting an imperial mystique around the presidency, the U.S. Constitution is quite clear that the President must obey the law. Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution lays out much of President’s power and never says that the President of the United States is above the law. In fact Article 2, Section 3 specifically states of the President: “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”
Article 1 of the Constitution states that while the President can only be subject to impeachment while in office, that the “party convicted shall be subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to the Law.”
Bugliosi notes that the U.S. Supreme Court might interpret this language to mean a President would first have to be impeached, before being tried in court of law. However former U.S. President Richard Nixon was never impeached, and yet he was pardoned by the succeeding President Gerald Ford to prevent a criminal trial. Nixon could have be tried in a U.S. court for obstruction of justice and wiretapping, notes Bugliosi, but was pardoned before any of that could go forward.
PORTRAYING GEORGE W. BUSH
Bugliosi also goes beyond factual criminal evidence to paint George W. Bush as someone who does not care about the carnage he has created. Bugliosi documents the president’s indefatigable upbeat attitude. He notes and notes again Bush’s strange and smiling disconnection from daily deadly news coming out of Iraq. Bugliosi bases his portrait on the brushstrokes of numerous press photographs and newspaper quotes of the man. Bugliosi notes how the president never stopped taking week-long and month-long vacations during the war. This president always stays smiling despite the bad news; exercises extensively no matter what is occurring; and says—amid all the carnage in Iraq— stuff like “Laura and I are having the time of our lives.”
Bugliosi documents a circumstantial case that George W. Bush is sociopath—lacks empathy for other people. While this does not weigh into factual evidence in a case for murder, such emotional evidence would go far—if not even farther than more cold facts—in compelling a jury to convict the president. Reading the book, one sees how Bugliosi won 105 out of 106 cases, and convicted 21 out of 21 murder suspects.
Bugliosi meticulously lays out a case against George W. Bush for purposefully deceiving the United States into war, thereby causing over 4,000 U.S. soldier deaths and 100,000-plus civilian Iraqi death and counting.
Bugliosi is in a good position as a former prosecutor to ask—on behalf of millions of people—why should someone who accidentally kills a person in a liquor store holdup be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, yet someone who creates death and destruction on an unimaginable scale sail off into the sunset and have a library named after them?
Is U.S. law based on justice, or whim?
Bugliosi is writing out of just this concern. He is not alone.
Bugliosi says Americans are too fearful today. He calls for state prosecutors and even aspiring attorneys in law school to read his book and take the cause up. There are no statuary time limits on charges of murder.
Gregg Mosson is an independent reporter and author of "Season of Flowers and Dust" (Goose River Press). More can be found at his Web site at www.greggmosson.com.