War Crimes Conference Seeks Ways to Prosecute Bush

By Mark Anderson

ANDOVER, Mass.—Author Vincent Bugliosi made it achingly clear at
a special war crimes conference that President George W. Bush should—and
can—be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Why isn't this village idiot (and his cronies) in prison yet?

Bugliosi, the well-known former Los Angeles district attorney
who, some 38 years ago, put Charles Manson and his band of killers in prison
for the Tate-LaBianca murders, made no overtures for trying the president in
foreign tribunals. Rather, he said that Title 18 of the United States Code
provides the essential legal framework for trying and convicting this
president for what Bugliosi describes as nothing short of murder for pushing
the nation into a war under false pretenses, thereby bringing about what he
sees as the needless deaths of more than 4,000 soldiers killed in action and
at least 100,000 innocent Iraqis who died “horrible, violent deaths,” as his
book notes.

Bugliosi was the keynote speaker at the Sept. 13-14 Robert
Jackson Conference for the Prosecution of High Level American War Criminals,
organized by Lawrence Velvel, dean of the Massachusetts School of Law.

Bugliosi’s comments on the event’s first day lent an air of
clarity and gravity to a conference that brought together various activist
groups, attorneys, scholars, journalists and others with divergent views
that did not always harmonize. But when all was said and done, everyone
understood one another fairly well. Velvel planned to boil down all the
input to specific goals to pursue the objective that coincides with the
title of Bugliosi’s hard-hitting book, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for
Murder. Charges against Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice likely will be on the table. Other high administration
officials may be included as well.

“I realize the title of my book is a little ambiguous,” Bugliosi
mused. “I’ve been chided by some people for not being more clear about my
intentions. Credibility has always meant everything to me, therefore, my
only mistress and my only master are facts and objectivity. If a Democratic
president had done the same thing that I strongly believe George Bush has
done, I would have pursued the same course.”

He added: “This is not my war or your war, but George Bush’s
war,” while noting that his fatality numbers are conservative. He
acknowledged that Iraqi deaths could be as high as 1 million, and later in a
video interview with AFP, he conceded that America’s real war dead from all
causes—mainly war-related illnesses and injuries—could be much higher in the
current conflicts—perhaps 100,000 or more. But he wants to keep the matter
relatively simple so that tangible charges which will hold up in court can
be brought forth. This is why he leaves suicides out of the equation, since
it could be argued that other factors beyond the war may contribute to
soldiers’ suicides.

“That would dilute the case,” he told the audience.

Bugliosi said that he has established domestic jurisdiction to
try Bush for the deaths of the soldiers, but has not been able, at least so
far, to do so for the Iraqis’ deaths.

When his overall quest began some years ago, he thought long and
hard on the question of whether he could apply “conventional principles of
criminal law” to a sitting president for taking the nation into a war under
false pretenses.

“The resolution of this question initially seemed daunting to
me,” he said, but “in the criminal law . . . the answer to that question had
to be in the affirmative.”

He said that he eventually determined that Bush’s actions “fell
within the legal architecture” of criminal law. He made that determination
by focusing on a primary reality: “No man is so high that he is above the
law, and that includes the president of the United States” He continued:
“Bush can find no comfort in federal or state law.”

Ironically, he added, the very Constitution that Bush
disregarded when he sent troops into conflict without a Congressional
declaration of war provides him with some insulation—for now. Bugliosi
pointed out that Article 1, Section 3, as he reads it, indicates a president
cannot be prosecuted for a crime while in office, but he said impeachment
would be a good first step since it would remove him from office and sweep
aside the protection that office affords him, a comment which pleased
impeachment advocates who comprised much of the audience at the conference.

“No one has done anything at all to Bush—no impeachment . . .
not even an investigation—nothing!” Bugliosi declared, stressing what he
sees as the extreme severity of Bush’s war-related crimes and the moral
bankruptcy of a nation whose government will not enforce checks and balances
and somehow probe or punish an imperial president who seems to answer to no

Bugliosi also said he has established that the White House
ordered the CIA to falsify reports linking Saddam Hussein to al Qaeda (the
terrorist network allegedly responsible for the 9-11 attacks that sparked
early calls for “retaliatory” war), among other major revelations found in
his book.

“These revelations do not mean anything at all unless we do
something about them,” he said, adding that his book “sets forth the case,
the legal architecture and evidence of his guilt and the jurisdiction to
prosecute him.” As a “legal blueprint,” the book could lead to the
prosecution of Bush “in an American courtroom.”

A particularly interesting twist is that the Manson case,
Bugliosi believes, provides a guidepost, of sorts, for the Bush case—in that
both involve a leader who brought about the conditions for murder, in
Bugliosi’s view. “I was able to convict Manson by the vicarious liability
rule,” he explained, saying that Manson’s actions deliberately set in motion
a chain of events that resulted in murders even though Manson did not
personally kill anyone and was not even at the crime scene. Still, he got
life in prison, due to this legal principle.

This vicarious liability rule, Bugliosi said, “provides that
each member of a conspiracy is criminally responsible for all crimes
committed by his co-conspirators.” Even on a distant battlefield, the rule
still applies. “If the conspirator(s) deliberately sets in motion a chain of
events that he knows will cause a third party or an innocent agent to commit
a criminal act, the conspirator is criminally responsible for that act . . .
that’s the law of the land.” This even applies if “innocent [unwitting]
agents of the conspirators further the objective of the conspiracy.”

Therefore, “it does not have to be shown that the principal
(Bush, for example) wanted the innocent agent (Iraqis shooting and killing
U.S. soldiers) to commit the act, only that he [Bush] caused them to do so.”

Bugliosi stressed that “caused” is the operative word, in that
he believes that by sending troops into war on the basis of lies, such
causation appears to have taken place, since doing so caused Iraqis to shoot
U.S. troops in self-defense or to “repel an invader.”

Bugliosi dismissed the mere suggestion that Bush could have sent
soldiers into war thinking that no one would die among them.

The overall conference dealt with a host of matters to be
covered in future AFP editions as organizers work out the details with which
to proceed.