BUSH: INDICTABLE CO-CONSPIRATOR?
“The White House Criminal Conspiracy” [Nov. 14] by Elizabeth de la Vega is by far the best compilation of the case for the impeachment of George W. Bush I’ve seen. I can only hope that our legislators read it and act on it. De la Vega is to be commended.
PAUL S. MUSE
Elizabeth de la Vega’s article should be required reading by all members of Congress and the mainstream media.
Fort Worth, Tex.
Elizabeth de la Vega must be smoking crack. If you have to run such articles to sell the magazine to your core audience, great, but if they believe it they must be retarded.
My 20-year-old son, a reservist with the National Guard, is currently serving in Baghdad. Counselor de la Vega confirms what my professional criminal justice experience and education have led me to believe–that is, there are reasons beyond measure to accuse this cabal of crimes under our laws.
People are inclined to think I am against this war because my son is in it. They could not be more wrong. My son is a soldier, and I am proud of him and his commitment. However, my commitment is to value his life, as well as all our soldiers’ lives, and my country. Taking this country to war based on fabricated evidence, forged documents and illegitimate intelligence is worthy of careful examination. Our country is on a slippery slope. I hope we can catch it before it falls and the rule of law as we knew it in America is gone forever.
Military Families Speak Out/Ohio
I fear that as a prosecutor, Elizabeth de la Vega may have “undercharged” the defendants. This was not just some “third rate” attempt to criminally affect a national election (though they’re guilty of that, too), or some underhanded money laundering of legitimate defense funds to finance illegal military escapades (though, again…). They said we should fear “mushroom clouds…in forty-five minutes.” (Read it again.) This is called “terrorism”–in the form of a bomb threat.
Another charge can be added to the case for impeachment. The United Nations was formed to protect the world against aggressive warfare. The United States led the development of the UN and was a principal signer of the UN Charter. Section VI of the Constitution states that treaties the United States signs are the law of the land. By ordering US forces to attack Iraq contrary to the expressed agreement of the Security Council, George W. Bush violated the UN Charter and, therefore, the laws of the United States.
FRANCIS J. DURGIN
So tell me, Ms. de la Vega, what can I do? What can we do? And don’t just say something tepid like write to your local government official/representative/senator/governor. They are part of the problem, all holding on to their own jobs with vice grips, forgetting that they should be representing us. So I ask you–no, I beg you–to please reveal how we can take back our hijacked nation, a nation that not too long ago was highly regarded as the best place to live on earth but now no doubt is viewed by our global neighbors as a dangerous, reckless country.
Lopez Island, Wash.
Elizabeth de la Vega’s writing on the White House conspiracy is simple, direct, brilliant and stunning. She outlines the case against the President, for conspiracy and fraud, with such clarity that her conclusion is inescapable: We must pursue this case not as a matter of politics but as a matter of law.
The probability that the Republican Congress will consider impeachment is zero. Are there legal barriers to a class-action lawsuit, charging conspiracy and fraud, brought on behalf of the citizens of the United States? Or on behalf of more than 2,000 American families who have suffered the violent death of a loved one in the chaos of Iraq?
Elizabeth de la Vega’s description of “The White House Criminal Conspiracy” is a useful technical exercise, but neither Pat Roberts’s Senate Select Committee nor the Gonzales Justice Department nor the House Judiciary Committee will even permit such a discussion.
My question is, Couldn’t a broad conspiracy and fraud case be made in other jurisdictions? Didn’t the President or Vice President ever end up somewhere in the country where a state or county prosecutor could lodge charges of fraud and conspiracy under state law? After all, when they sought to defraud the nation collectively, weren’t they also defrauding each of the states?
The attempt by Elizabeth de la Vega to fit the Bush/Cheney duplicity into a traditional fraud framework fails because sufficient information was available at the time, including in the pages of The Nation, to debunk all the Administration claims about Iraq’s nuclear capability and intentions, as well as the alleged ties to Al Qaeda. Fraud claims cannot stand up when the allegedly defrauded can educate themselves to the truth with minimal investigation. Although Bush/Cheney deserve condemnation in the court of public opinion, the idea that their misrepresentations and misinformation is actionable in a courtroom is specious. The real issue is an uneducated, easily cowed public and the failure of Congress, particularly Democrats, to exercise their powers and duties. A government so easily hijacked needs reform. A public so easily fooled needs to look at itself rather than looking for excuses in the perfidy of its leaders.
RICHARD E. STECK
DE LA VEGA REPLIES
Los Gatos, Calif.
I thank all the readers who wrote in about my article. Richard Steck’s letter is well-written and, in many respects, factually correct. It is true, for example, that information that called into question many of the Administration’s claims was publicly available before the invasion of Iraq. But it is not true that “fraud claims cannot stand up when those who are allegedly defrauded can educate themselves to the truth with minimal investigation.” The law of fraud is, in fact, quite to the contrary.
The focus of proof in a fraud case, and most criminal cases for that matter, is on the actions of those who are charged with the crime, not the state of mind of those who were targeted. What must be proved is that a defendant intentionally set about to deceive through outright lies, half-truths, misrepresentation or statements made with reckless indifference to the truth. Once that conduct is proved, it doesn’t matter legally whether anyone was actually defrauded. Obviously, then, if it turns out that people are defrauded, it matters not that they could have avoided being fooled by exercising greater due diligence. As the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit once noted, “It is immaterial whether only the most gullible would have been deceived by the techniques involved. [The law of fraud] protects the naïve as well as the worldly-wise and the former are more in need of protection than the latter.”
Ultimately, Steck’s position–that we should simply all blame ourselves, end of story–is more of a worldview than a statement of the law. The principle of caveat emptor, or buyer beware, has never been incorporated in the law of fraud. Nor should it be. In virtually any fraud case it could be argued that a more savvy or diligent person would not have been fooled. In the Enron case, for example, one could argue that information showing that the Enron company was a house of cards ready to topple was publicly available long before fall 2001, when the company fell apart. But a defendant arguing, “Yeah, I lied, but the problems you’re in are your own fault, because you should not have believed me” is a little like a guy saying, “Yeah, I aimed the gun at my neighbor and pulled the trigger, but he should have gotten out of the way more quickly.”
There have been, and continue to be, failures on the part of Congress. They are inexcusable, but they do not provide a legal–or moral–excuse for the crime committed by the Administration in misleading this country into war.
ELIZABETH DE LA VEGA
AT THE WHEEL OF HER OLDSMOBILE
West Los Angeles
After a ten-year lapse in my longtime Nation subscription (my mother re-upped me as a birthday gift), I was delighted to discover, in my very first issue, Alexander Cockburn’s “The Virtues of Gas Guzzling” [“Beat the Devil,” Oct. 31]. I’d been feeling pretty bad about my 1970 Olds 88, which came standard with a 455 V-8. My old car is not thought much of by the limousine liberals hereabouts, but hell, I got the thing from my radical political mentor back in ’82. As he was killed the same year in his then fairly big Toyota pickup, my Olds has much sentimental value. For years I babied it: new interior, new paint, about 9,000 new parts, care in washing and waxing, etc. Still, guilt set in, and I largely ceased to take care of it, or even drive it.
I feel renewed, however, and ready to get back at it, having read Cockburn’s take on gas guzzling. No need for me, or liberal friends with SUVs, to worry, according to Alexander. Imagine my relief, not to mention surprise, in discovering that oil wells have been and always will be at peak production (M. King Hubbert notwithstanding, since he was apparently a conspirator), based on Dr. Gold’s theory, and that CO2 emissions contribute nothing to greenhouse warming, based mostly on Cockburn’s beliefs. In short, I can tool up and down Mulholland Drive, guilt-free in my ’70 Olds, blowing smoke out my tailpipe the whole way.
A YEN FOR CHINA
Michael T. Klare’s “Revving Up the China Threat” [Oct. 24], trenchant though it is, unintentionally flattered the Bush Gang by giving them credit for a more rational approach to China policy than they are capable of. What Klare does not mention, I suspect because it is too familiar a filter even to be perceptible, is the double whammy that this pack of Republicans believe Reagan “won” the cold war by stepping up the arms race (and therefore we can work the same magic on China with the same approach) and that China has–notwithstanding its burgeoning capitalist economy–a Communist government. This all means that China comes in for an especially cynical version of realpolitik with this bunch: Like the Soviet Union, they think, China is after no less than the utter subjugation to its ideology of the rest of the world. It does not seem to have occurred to the Bush Gang that the economic debt we are allowing ourselves to get into with China has much more potential danger than its military buildup.
WOMAN’S WORK IS NEVER DONE
Santa Monica, Calif.
I was very interested to read Andrew Rice’s “Why Is Africa Still Poor?” [Oct. 24]. But I was dismayed that there was no reference to women or gender issues. On a continent that is still primarily agricultural, and where most estimates suggest that three-fourths of African women are directly involved in the production of crops, primarily food for their families, the issue of women’s role in African economies should be at the center of any discussion about poverty alleviation. The chicken-or-the-egg conundrum raised by Rice–is governance bad because the nations are poor, or are they poor because of bad government?–applies equally to women. As I concluded in my book Pounders of Grain: A History of Women, Work, and Politics in Mozambique, “I believe that poverty in Mozambique can only be ended by focusing on women and the work they do. Only when women are fully integrated into economic and agricultural planning, into the schools and workplaces, and into the government at all levels of elected and appointed officials can poverty begin to be alleviated.” It will not be easy, and efforts must be made on all fronts simultaneously to improve governments and economies, but without women those efforts are doomed.
DUST OFF THE THUMB SCREWS
Sun Lakes, Ariz.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has called the Geneva Conventions “quaint.” As a result the Bush Administration has resorted to torture. Given this criterion, isn’t it logical that Scooter Libby should be tortured until he provides full disclosure of the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame?