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Andy Ostroy Headshot

The Murder Trial of George W. Bush?

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There are those who say that President George W. Bush should be impeached for intentionally overstating the case for war with Iraq and misleading the American public and Congress about the threat of WMD as well as Saddam Hussein's alleged role in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Since then, there have been administration insiders like Richard Clarke and Scott McClellan who've written books confirming these long-held suspicions, providing meticulously detailed accounts of how the Busheviks, as early as January 2001, began their mission to manipulate, misrepresent and manufacture evidence in order to justify an invasion.

And then there are those like former criminal prosecutor and best-selling author Vincent Bugliosi who believe mere impeachment is not enough. According to his website, his new book "The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder," is "a tight, meticulously researched legal case that puts George W. Bush on trial in an American courtroom for the murder of nearly 4,000 American soldiers fighting the war in Iraq..."

Bugliosi, most famous for prosecuting Charles Manson for the 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders, appeared Friday morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe program with host Joe Scarborough, NBC's Andrea Mitchell and the Boston Globe's Mike Barnicle. Citing reams of documentary evidence to support his contention that Bush should be tried for murder, Bugliosi bases his case not on Bush's false claims of WMD, but rather that the president lied that the WMD posed a grave and imminent threat to the security of the United States, which in turn became the justification for the war.

As just one example, Bugliosi points to Bush's October 7, 2002 speech to the Nation in which the president, for the first time, informed Americans of the "urgent" threat from Saddam and Iraq. Here's a few excerpts from that fateful speech:

"...Tonight I want to take a few minutes to discuss a grave threat to peace, and America's determination to lead the world in confronting that threat...Many Americans have raised legitimate questions: about the nature of the threat; about the urgency of action...First, some ask why Iraq is different from other countries or regimes that also have terrible weapons. While there are many dangers in the world, the threat from Iraq stands alone -- because it gathers the most serious dangers of our age in one place. Iraq's weapons of mass destruction are controlled by a murderous tyrant...who has struck other nations without warning, and holds an unrelenting hostility toward the United States...Saddam Hussein is a homicidal dictator who is addicted to weapons of mass destruction...If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today -- and we do -- does it make any sense for the world to wait to confront him as he grows even stronger and develops even more dangerous weapons?...Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists. Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints...We have every reason to assume the worst, and we have an urgent duty to prevent the worst from occurring...I hope this will not require military action, but it may...The attacks of September the 11th showed our country that vast oceans no longer protect us from danger. Before that tragic date, we had only hints of al Qaeda's plans and designs. Today in Iraq, we see a threat whose outlines are far more clearly defined, and whose consequences could be far more deadly. Saddam Hussein's actions have put us on notice, and there is no refuge from our responsibilities..."

The problem with all this, and which Bugliosi also cites, is that just six days prior to Bush's speech the CIA presented him its 2002 assessment entitled Iraq's Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction in which it was the consensus of 16 federal intelligence agencies that in fact Saddam and Iraq was not an imminent threat to U.S. security at home. Bush knew all along that his speech was a lie as was the fallacy of an "imminent threat," but he nonetheless pursued his aggressive mission of selling his war to the American people and to Congress. A sales job based on pure lies, deception and misrepresentations that result in over 100,000 deaths. And therein lies Bugliosi's case for murder.

Referring to what is now widely known as the Downing Street Memos, in a March 27, 2006 front-page story the NY Times reported the following:

"In the weeks before the United States-led invasion of Iraq, as the United States and Britain pressed for a second United Nations resolution condemning Iraq, President Bush's public ultimatum to Saddam Hussein was blunt: Disarm or face war. But behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons..."Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning," David Manning, Mr. Blair's chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote in the memo that summarized the discussion between Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and six of their top aides. "The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March," Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. "This was when the bombing would begin."... The memo also shows that the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not finding any before the planned invasion, Mr. Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation, including a proposal to paint a United States surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire, or assassinating Mr. Hussein." Five days later Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was scheduled to appear before the United Nations to make Bush's case for war.

Remember the timeline here. This is key. The meeting between Bush and Blair occurred four months after the CIA's report in which it stated that Iraq was not an imminent threat. Yet, not only did Bush continue sounding the alarms over Saddam's WMD, but he and his blood-thirsty neocons--VP Dick Cheney, then-National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld--had already secretly drawn up the war plans and were angling to concoct the saleable justification.

And where was the media while the Busheviks were perpetrating these lies in their march to Baghdad? Nowhere. The press was embarrassingly neutered and utterly useless. I recall possibly one or two noble attempts by MSNBC's David Gregory to doggedly get some truth out of Bush during a couple of White House press conferences, but his efforts were summarily dismissed by a smirking Bush, whose smug, arrogant, defiant reply of "I told you, we're not gonna go there, David" was beyond infuriating. Headline: Bush to Media...Fuck Off.. And that was the end of that. America's free press was rendered impotent by a tyrannical president defiantly pissing on the Constitution and laughing about it.

Nothing's changed. It's been five years, a half-trillion dollars and 4000 dead troops since the invasion and the media still has about as much impact as a flaccid wiener in a whorehouse. That was evidenced yet again with Scarborough's interview, or shall I say mocking session, with Bugliosi. Scarborough was noticeably confrontational, to the point of being belligerent in his defense of Bush's march to war. While Bugliosi was diligently trying to demonstrate, from a purely scholarly, legal, non-partisan standpoint, how the U.S. president is responsible for the death of over 100,000 people, Scarborough and Barnicle had that "behind the teacher's back" grinning/laughter thing going on as if they were a couple of high-school cut-ups. While all this was taking place, Mitchell sat in a robotic trance. On multiple occasions, Scarborough repeated the GOP talking point that "everyone said Saddam had WMD." Bugliosi, albeit unsuccessfully, kept trying to hammer home the point that it wasn't Bush's lies about the existence of WMD, but the imminent threat that Bush regurgitated ad nauseum to bolster his case for war.

But that's just the problem. From the start, the media never took this war seriously in terms of its justification; what the sacrifices would be; or its consequences. It never did its job in questioning the obvious lies and misrepresentations. Never held Bush or the administration accountable for its actions, especially when those actions included egregious violations of the U.S. Constitution, international law, the Geneva Conventions, or just plain simple morality and ethics. So why should it start now? It's as if the media at this point needs to remain hands off so as not to call attention to its gross negligence over never being hands on. It may be maddening to watch Scarborough, Barnicle and Mitchell sit it mock judgment and disdain of a former prosecutor presenting a cogent scenario for Bush's indictment for war crimes, but it sure as hell ain't surprising.