Where else but Venice, California, would you go to hear an outraged crank argue for indicting the sitting president of the United States for murder in a gymnasium packed to the gills with wild-eyed radicals cheering his every charge?
Which is exactly what we did this past Wednesday, except the crank was no crank, but rather the world-famous former district attorney and best-selling author Vincent Bugliosi, and more than a few radicals in the audience looked to have day jobs and mortgages to pay.
As Linda Milazzo reported recently (here and here), Bugliosi—the noted Manson Family prosecutor—was in town to promote his latest book, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder (see ad on this page)—what he calls a “practical, nuts and bolts blueprint” that he hopes some state or local district attorney will follow to make George Bush pay for his crimes. Bugliosi is sending letters and copies of his book to prosecutors around the country, offering his own pro bono services as anything from bookkeeper to lead prosecutor.
Organized by the Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles and hosted by PDA-LA president Marcy Winograd, the extended book signing drew over 200 to the Venice Center for Peace & Justice in the Arts. A few audience members looked to be straight out of the sixties—albeit a good deal grayer upstairs and broader in the midrift—but many could pass for the teachers, budget analysts, and regular Janes and Joes they mostly were.
Bugliosi’s basic point is that if George Bush took America to war under false pretenses, “he is criminally culpable for the deaths of the 4,000 American servicemen who have been killed in Iraq as well the 100,000 or more Iraqi men, women, and children who have died as result of that war.”
It isn’t enough that Bush and his cohorts blundered us into invading Iraq on intelligence reports they had misread. No, they had to know that they were lying to the American people about their reasons for launching the invasion.
To support his contention that the Bush Administration did knowingly take us into war under false pretenses, Bugliosi cited a CIA assessment of the threat Sadaam Hussein’s Iraq posed to America’s safety and the Manning Memo, a report of a meeting between George Bush, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and their top aides during the run-up to the Iraq invasion.
Bugliosi points out that the CIA assessment clearly stated that Hussein posed no threat to our country unless he was attacked. “But just days after receiving that report,” Bugliosi said, “Bush told the nation the exact opposite of what the CIA was telling him.” The public version of that report was scrubbed of this observation when it was later released, a further indication that Bush and his advisors knew precisely what they were doing.
Not as well known as the similar but weaker Downing Street Memo, the Manning Memo reports that “Bush was so worried about UN inspectors not finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that he started talking about ways to provoke Hussein into a war, including by flying U2 spy missions over Iraq,” according to Bugliosi. At that point, UN weapons inspector Hans Blix was reporting that his inspectors were able to perform professional, no-notice inspections anyplace in Iraq. “Hussein’s government was being proactively helpful, according to Blix,” Bugliosi related.
Based on his years of successful prosecutions—105 successful prosecutions without a loss—Bugliosi charged that no innocent person would look for those kinds of excuses in those circumstances. “There is no answer to the Manning Memo but guilt,” he said.
Bugliosi contends that his effort is a nonpartisan one and that he would equally call for the indictment of a Democratic president under the same circumstances.
Asked why he would risk his reputation on such a quixotic venture—he claims to be virtually blacklisted by nearly every mainstream television talk show, which were so happy to see him on previous book tours (including the purportedly left-leaning ones)—he says he has been in a state of rage set in motion especially by Bush’s cavalier attitude about the destruction he has wrought.
As one egregious example, Bugliosi cited Bush’s infamous “perfect day” quote when the carnage in Iraq was at a fever pitch:
“I’m gonna have lunch with Secretary of State Rice, take a little nap, I’m reading an Elmore Leonard book right now — knock off a little Elmore Leonard this afternoon — go fishing with my man Barney [his dog], have a light dinner, then head for the ball game. So it’s a perfect day.”
As to how Bush might defend himself—along with Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condolezza Rice, and any others who were in on the lies—against this murder charge, Bugliosi offered only the defense suggested by the late 20th Century philosopher Richard Pryor on the occasion of being caught by his wife in bed with another woman:
“Who you gonna believe, me or your lyin’ eyes?”
— By Dick Price & Sharon Kyle
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