THE BLOG
09/13/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Impeachment? Truth and Reconciliation Commission? Never Mind That -- Haul George Bush into a Court of Law, Part 1

Today we visit Vincent Bugliosi's book, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. Tomorrow we visit Vincent Bugliosi himself as he talks about his appearance before the House Judiciary Committee appearance and his book.

As you may have heard by now, the mainstream media has been giving Vincent Bugliosi's latest book, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, the cold shoulder. Never mind that he authored what was, at the time, the bestselling crime book in history, Helter Skelter, about his successful prosecution of the Manson family. Nor that he's written numerous bestsellers since. His 2007 book, Reclaiming History, a 1,600-page attempt to dispel alternative histories of the Kennedy assassination, is being made into a mini-series by HBO and Tom Hanks.

In the only mainstream media article addressing The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder and its reception, New York Times reporter Tim Arango writes: "The editor of Newsweek, Jon Meacham, said he had not read the manuscript, but he offered a reason why the media might be silent: 'I think there's a kind of Bush-bashing fatigue out there.'"

The main reason though may be Bugliosi's agenda: Impeach Bush? Convene a truth and reconciliation commission for him and his gang? Forget all that. Once Bush is out of office, let's drag his butt into a court of law. But the media's perception that much of the public can't conceive of prosecuting a president in a court of law is probably accurate.

Most Americans are too invested in whatever remains of the myth of the presidency and fear that a trial would subvert a president's authority. Besides, as Bugliosi himself said in an interview with the Nation, "Americans just can't believe an American President would engage in conduct that smacks of such criminality, and thus the whole notion of taking the President to court for murder is a revolutionary one."

Myth-busting aside, and however out of fashion Bush-bashing may be, Bugliosi summons up a depth and breadth of rage that shames those of us who have been reduced to ennui and cynicism by the Bush years. You'd never know that not only is he 73 years old but still on the rebound from the monumental task of researching and writing his Kennedy tome.

For instance, he has no compunctions about pulling the rug out from under soldiers' rationalization of last resort -- that they fight over there to keep from fighting here. To Bugliosi the question isn't why but who. He writes: "If you say our young men didn't die for Bush, Cheney, and Rove, then whom did they die for?"

Nor does he pull any punches on Bush's character. "What I strongly believe (without absolutely knowing) is that this man has no respect or love for this country." What makes him think that?

For starters, Bush put our young people in harm's way for no good reason, avoided the draft when young himself, and experiences no apparent concern for the carnage in Iraq. Furthermore, he spends much of his time in Crawford, neglects to read reports, and is guilty of blatant cronyism. What really sticks in Bugliosi's craw is the cheerfulness and insouciance that Bush exhibits in a time of war.

For instance, Bugliosi cites an August 2005 day Bush spent in Crawford in the midst of a two-week period during which 42 Americans were killed. With Bush's only work-related activity lunch with Condoleezza Rice, he called it a "perfect day." Bugliosi writes: "I don't know about you, but if I ever killed just one person, even accidentally, like in a car accident, I'd never have another perfect day as long as I lived."

At one point Bugliosi even declares: "Bush is a grotesque anomaly and aberration." If, even in the service of rallying us to prevail upon the Justice Department to bring charges, such exclamations seem over the top, look at this way. The least we could do is allow Bugliosi to vent since much of this book is essentially a turnkey project for a federal attorney to start the ignition on the prosecution of Bush and put it in gear.

A crime is an act that's not only prohibited, but accompanied by criminal intent. In the case of murder, this is known as malice aforethought, which comes in two varieties. The first is express malice -- the specific intent to kill. In the second, implied malice, the intent is not to kill but to commit a dangerous act with wanton disregard for the consequences as well as an indifference to human life.

Bush, Bugliosi writes, not only fulfilled the second requirement, implied malice, but he started the Iraq War "without any lawful excuse of justification."

Bush's defense would be self-defense -- that he needed to carry out a preemptive strike on Saddam. But lying that Saddam possessed WMD and conspired with al Qaeda to commit 9/11 shows that Bush wasn't acting in self-defense, but, instead, in a criminal state of mind. Hence, every American killed as a result of his actions are murders on Bush's part.

In most states implied malice is second-degree murder. But, Bugliosi writes, "Bush's alleged crime is. . . on such a grand scale that it would greatly dishonor those. . . who paid the ultimate price because of it if he were not to pay the ultimate penalty."

In the interest of prosecuting Bush for first-degree murder, Bugliosi writes that a "very credible argument could be made that in a real sense he did intend to have American soldiers killed in his war."

Say what?

Bugliosi explains. A typical example of implied malice is a high-speed chase though a school zone, in which "not only didn't the defendant intend to kill, but he had no way of knowing whether someone would die or not. [But] while Bush never specifically intended to kill any American soldier, he absolutely knew American soldiers would necessarily die in his war." (Italics are Bulgiosi's.)

He continues. "Therefore, a case could be made that unless Bush intended to have a war without any casualties, which is. . . an argument that would make Bush sound absurd. . . he did, in fact, specifically intend to have American soldiers killed."

In other words, as everyone knows, in war, casualties come with the territory. If the "natural tendency" of an act is to take another's life, the law can't help but conclude that was intentional.

As for his chances of success, ". . . as a former prosecutor with twenty-one murder convictions without a loss. . . I am probably in a better position than the average person to know what type of evidence is necessary to go to trial with." If he's rusty, he sure doesn't sound like it. In fact, he's begun to arouse the interest of current prosecutors.

Much of the rest of The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder is given over to cataloging Bush's crimes. Bugliosi brings some to our attention that have gone unnoticed by many of us. For example, who remembers Hans Blix, UN weapons inspector, stating before the invasion that Iraq's cooperation in the inspections, "can be seen as active, even proactive"?

Part 2 tomorrow.

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