April 7, WASHINGTON, DC — The legendary Los Angeles County prosecutor and top selling true crime author, Vincent Bugliosi, continues to make the case that he argued in detail in his New York Times bestseller, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. His crime, according to the esteemed former prosecutor: deliberately deceiving the United States into an illegal war that resulted in the deaths of 4,200 U.S. soldiers and more than 1,000,000 Iraqi civilians.
He has the help of a citizens group called ABA Publishing headed by Arminda and Bob Alexander with Jude Morford. The all-volunteer group recently sent Bugliosi’s cover letter and book to 2,200 local prosecutors across the country.
Bugliosi is offended by the prominence of proposed torture charges to the exclusion of what he argues is the much larger charge: murder.
Prof. Jonathan Turley of the George Washington University School of Law was asked what charges were the most likely if there’s ever a serious investigation into Bush administration criminal activities. Turley noted:
“The two most obvious crimes in this administration are the torture program and the unlawful surveillance program. Despite the effort to pretend that there is some ambiguity or uncertainty on these crimes, the law is quite clear.” (Blog of Legal Times, Dec. 23, 2008)
Torture and illegal wiretapping are important concerns to Bugliosi.
But murder is by far the larger crime with a much stronger case, Bugliosi argues.
The former top prosecutor demands justice for the deaths of 4,200 U.S. citizens, soldiers who gave their lives in a war based on calculated lies by the Bush administration. Their loss is the basis for his murder charge. While Bugliosi couldn’t find a way to attach the 1.2 million dead Iraqi civilians to the indictment, those deaths are part of the larger record of Bush crimes Bugliosi stated with passion.
I interviewed Vincent Bugliosi about his book, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder in August 2008. He outlined his case in detail and the challenges he’d faced in getting the word out after the corporate media blacked out advertising and interviews on his groundbreaking book.
Recently, I contacted Mr. Bugliosi to explore his reaction to President Obama’s position on prosecuting Bush and others members of the regime and his opinion of the focus on a Bush prosecution for torture instead of the much more serious murder indictment.
Interview with Vincent Bugliosi
Conducted by Michael Collins
March 29, 2009
Michael Collins: Do you think that President Obama is reluctant to investigate and, presuming the findings we’d expect, prosecute Bush and others in his administration for their alleged crimes.
Vincent Bugliosi: President Obama was on the ABC news program This Week With George Stephanopoulos, and the issue came up about the prosecutions of the Bush administration, potential prosecutions, and he said words — I can give you his exact words. He said that he was of “a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.” (ABC News, Jan. 11, 2009) Now, the interpretation that has been placed on these words, and I agree with that interpretation, is that he does not intend to pursue George Bush or his administration for any crimes they may have committed.
This is in contradistinction to what he said months ago before he became president. He said words to the effect that if he became president, he would have his attorney general investigate the Bush administration to see if things that they had done involved crimes or just merely bad policy. He said if they involved crimes, he said no man is above the law, and the implication was that he would ask his attorney general to proceed forward, so he’s changed his position.
I was mentioning the interpretation on his words. The article in The New York Times that quoted him: “President-elect Barack Obama signaled in an interview broadcast Sunday that he was unlikely to authorize a broad inquiry into Bush administration programs like domestic eavesdropping or the treatment of terrorism suspects.” (New York Times, Jan. 12, 2009)
I have to say that I’m disappointed in the president on his apparent position that he doesn’t want the Department of Justice to conduct a criminal investigation.
MC: What would you say to the president if you had the opportunity?
VB: If I were to speak to President Obama, I would inform him of one thing and advise him of a couple of other things. I’d inform him, and I guess this sounds a little sarcastic, but I would inform him that when he talks about only looking forward and not backwards, I agree that most of his efforts have to be towards the future. I’m not quarreling with him on that, but you can’t forget the past.
When he says that he intends to give Bush a free pass simply because whatever crime Bush may have committed was in the past, I would inform him of something he already knows: that all criminal prosecutions, without exception and by definition, have to deal, obviously, with past criminal behavior. Obviously we cannot prosecute someone for a crime that they may commit in the future.
And if we prosecute for even petty theft in America, what do we do with Bush, who I’m very convinced took this nation to war under false pretenses and has caused incalculable death, horror, and suffering?
I would advise him of two things, kind of using his words against him. If indeed Obama’s sole emphasis seems to be the future, I don’t think anything could improve our image around the world more, restore our credibility more than prosecuting George Bush for his monumental crimes. We would be telling the world’s people that what George Bush did in taking this nation to war on a lie against a sovereign nation like Iraq, without any provocation whatsoever, was not the real America. That was only George Bush’s America. The real America would never do something like that. And then in the real America, no man is so high he is above the law, and even presidents have to be accountable for their crimes. So talking about the future, using President Obama’s own emphasis, I think it would be very advisable to bring Bush to justice if, in fact, he’s guilty, as I say he is.
Talking about the future, if we want to deter future presidents from taking this nation to another war under false pretenses, some president in the future that gets a funny thought, I think that deterrence would increase immeasurably if he knew what America did to George Bush, put him on trial for murder, and if he was convicted, of course, the punishment would either be life imprisonment or the imposition of the death penalty.
I gave you a long answer to the question, but I had always suspected that if there was going to be a prosecution in this place, it would be at the local level. The ideal venue is, in fact, the Department of Justice.
MC: Ultimately, isn’t it the responsibility of the attorney general to determine the crimes that are investigated and what aren’t? For example, if Obama called up Holder and said, “Lay off any prosecutions against the Bush crew,” Holder may take that advice or he may not. But wouldn’t he have to ignore the request?
VB: Well, there’s no question that independent of Obama, Holder has the authority to bring criminal charges against Bush, no question about it. There’s also no question that each of the 93 U.S. attorneys around the country have the power and the authority to do so, but let’s jump from there to reality. The reality is if there’s some U.S. attorney in Chicago that wants to do it, it’s possible, but he’s not going to do it without checking with his boss. You don’t take on the biggest most important murder case in American history without letting your boss know about it, you know — that is, not if you want to remain a U.S. attorney; and likewise with Holder. He has the authority and he has the power to completely ignore Obama, but the reality is what do you do? If Obama indicated that he was opposed to it, it would take quite a man to overrule the president.
MC: Where does that leave the cause of justice for those who died?
Since Obama’s not going to do anything and the International Criminal Court has no jurisdiction, the reality is that the only game in town is what took place several weeks ago up in Seattle when Bob Alexander, just a regular citizen, but an American patriot, sent out with volunteers, copies of my book, The Prosecution of George Bush for Murder, to DAs all over the country, with a cover letter from me, asking the DAs to read the book, and, if they agreed that the evidence of guilt was clear and that there’s jurisdiction to proceed against him, I offered to help out in any way that I could, any way that they deemed — any way that they wanted me to, which would range all the way from being a consultant up to and including being appointed as special prosecutor.
MC: I’ve followed Professor Jonathon Turley of George Washington University, and he’s come out and said there are two clear crimes to prosecute Bush for. One is torture, which Bush has essentially admitted, and the other is under the statutes against illegal surveillance. I’m trying to understand why Turley doesn’t — and I don’t know if you’ve talked to him or not –
VB: No, no.
MC: I’m trying to understand where the murder charge is.
VB: I told you that I was disappointed with Obama. I have to take it a step further and say I am offended. I am offended by this movement by those who want to get, quote, even with Bush to just talk about torture. I find it very offensive. And I’ll tell you why. I’m not saying that Bush and his people should not be prosecuted for torture, but I want to get into that in depth in a while. But it should only be at most a footnote to going after him for murder. It should only be a footnote.
The New York Times said in an editorial a month and a half or so ago that there were two dozen verifiable cases of torture at Abu Ghraib. Let’s assume that that number is very conservative, very conservative. Let’s say there’s 100 cases; let’s say there’s 200 cases of torture that can be verified.
How do you compare 200 cases of torturing Iraqis with the unlawful death, if what I say is correct, of one million Iraqis and 4,200 American soldiers? How do you compare these two? Again, is there something that I don’t know? Is there something that I have to be told? How do you compare the two?
They can’t be compared, obviously, and yet all I hear is torture, torture, torture, torture, and I’m offended by that, not because I’m not saying that Bush shouldn’t be prosecuted for torture, but because what’s wrong with these people? To give Bush a free pass on taking this nation to war on a lie. The majority of American people believe that Bush took this nation to war on a lie, and I can’t tell you the number of times there’s been TV and radio shows and articles about the lies of the Bush administration in taking this nation to war. Now all of a sudden they want to forget all about that, these people, and just talk about torture, torture, torture, torture.
There was a cover story in, I think it was Harper’s Magazine about two months ago, about prosecuting Bush. Obviously, I bought the magazine, and I opened it up to the prosecution. What was it all about? Torture. The New York Times had a pro and con in the op-ed section about two months ago, pro prosecution to Bush, anti prosecution to Bush. So I looked at what the prosecution was about — torture. I’m offended by this.
Who’s fighting to bring about justice for the perhaps one million innocent Iraqi men, women, and children and babies in their graves? Actually, I shouldn’t say I’m going to bring about justice for them, or try to, because I was unable to establish jurisdiction to go after Bush for the deaths of the Iraqi citizens. I did establish jurisdiction to go after him for the deaths of the 4,200 American soldiers. In any event, it would be a symbolic effort to bring about justice for the million people in their graves. Let’s say that number’s high. In my book I say over 100,000. Certainly there’s over 100,000 innocent Iraqi men, women, children and babies who died as a result of Bush’s war. Some numbers put it in excess of one million, and we know there’s 4,200 American soldiers.
Who’s fighting to bring about justice for those in their graves, decomposing in their cold graves right now as I’m talking to you, Michael? Who’s doing that out there?
VB: No one seems to be interested in that. It’s all torture, torture, torture, torture, so apparently torturing 24 or 200 Iraqi citizens or Iraqi insurgents or what have you is more important than bringing about justice, let’s say, for 4,200 American soldiers who died in Bush’s war. So you can see where I am offended about that.
I’m not saying that Bush should not be prosecuted for torture.
Let’s talk about why it’s even more offensive to me than I’ve already told you. I’ve given you the main reason why I’m offended by it, that that’s all they talk about, as opposed to saying let’s go after him for taking this nation to war under false pretenses, and then let’s also add a count to the indictment for torture. Do you follow?
MC: Yes I do. Where does torture fit into the larger picture?
VB: I’m not saying he shouldn’t be prosecuted if he’s guilty of torture. I just don’t think it should be all that people are talking about. But let’s take it to another level. Who are these people who were tortured? Well, I guess virtually all of them were insurgents. There never should have been a war in Iraq. Iraq — there were no terrorists in Iraq, and when you go to war, a war against terror, you go against the terrorists, and there were no terrorists in Iraq, but we’re acting on a set stage here, so in Bush’s — in the Bush administration’s mind, once they were in custody there, they viewed — the Bush administration viewed these insurgents as enemies. So that’s their state of mind. If these insurgents are enemies, why would the Bush administration be authorizing torture? Well, to coerce from them intelligence information that would be helpful to America?
VB: Which does not eliminate the legal liability but diminishes the moral culpability.
But there was no justification whatsoever under the moon that was helpful to America in invading Iraq, nothing, zero, cipher. Hussein had nothing at all to do with 9/11. He was not an imminent threat to the security of this country. Bush and his people lied to convince the American people on both of those things, that he was an imminent threat and that he had been involved in 9/11. So that diminishes the torture thing even further.
The main guy we’ve got to go after, and there would be many named in the indictment, of course, many others, at least Rice and Cheney, of course, but I believe Rove; the main guy is George Bush. Why is he the main guy? Because he’s the one that authorized it. If he didn’t authorize it, none of these things would ever have happened. I don’t care who influenced him, if anyone at all. He said, yes, let’s do it.
MC: Since we last spoke, there have been more revelations on the outrages of the Iraq War, all a direct result of the lies Bush and Cheney used to sell the war.. How do those revelations build your case?
VB: While all of these revelations are very good, you have to know, Michael, they don’t mean anything at all unless we do something about it. The revelations by themselves, by definition, don’t go anywhere. And that’s why when people hear these revelations, you know, they’re prompted to ask, “What now? Where do we go from here?”
VB: And, again, not boasting, it’s just a fact that The Prosecution of George Bush for Murder is the what now, where do we go from here book, the only book, out of the probably over 100 out there attacking Bush, that provides a legal blueprint for bringing George Bush to justice.