In early June, a much-awaited Senate committee report formally concluded what had already become common wisdom: that President Bush and members of his Administration made false claims about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein in order to build a public case for war.
These are grounds for impeachment, some argue–adding that it’s not too late. Democratic Representative Dennis Kucinich introduced thirty-five articles of impeachment against President Bush on June 9, accusing the President of war crimes and deceiving the public.
But famed prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, foreshadowing the Senate committee report with much of the same damning evidence, argues in a new book that Bush “deserves much more than impeachment”–a penalty he considers incommensurate with the crimes committed. In The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, the New York Times bestselling author and prosecutor lays out the legal case for prosecuting President Bush in a US courtroom after he leaves office.
Bugliosi writes, “4000 young Americans decomposing in their grave today died for George Bush and Karl Rove and Dick Cheney.” His book is not only a scathing indictment of the President and his Administration but also a blueprint for holding him criminally accountable. Bugliosi accuses Bush of taking the nation to war in Iraq under deliberately false pretenses and thus holds him culpable for thousands of subsequent deaths, detailing in The Prosecution the legal basis for such a case and laying out what he argues is the requisite evidence for a murder conviction.
While at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, Bugliosi successfully prosecuted twenty-one murder convictions without a single loss, most famously that of serial murderer Charles Manson. He also penned a number of best-selling true-crime books, including Helter Skelter and Outrage.
The Nation spoke to Bugliosi in a phone interview from his home in Los Angeles about his new book and the political challenges of bringing its title trial to realization.
You begin your book by acknowledging its controversial premise and the difficulty people will have with the argument, as you lay it out, that George Bush should be put on trial for the murder of the nearly 4,000 American soldiers who’ve died fighting the war in Iraq. What do you think is so contentious about the idea of prosecuting a President, past or present, for murder?
The average American instinctively feels without having read my book that if an American President takes his nation to war under any circumstances, he can’t be prosecuted for murder. Related to that, people find it very hard to believe that an American President would engage in conduct that is so extremely criminal. You just don’t expect that of a President.