When I first heard that Vincent Bugliosi was coming out with a new book, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, I was skeptical. Granted, there is now a mountain of evidence as high as K2 that this president deliberately lied to us and our elected representatives about the evidence supporting war. For that, he should have been impeached ten times over. However, it took only one piece of evidence out of the avalanche of documentation outlined by Bugliosi to convince me that impeachment is no longer sufficient, and that this president must be tried for murder.
Bugliosi refers to a meeting Bush held on January 31, 2003 with Tony Blair and six of Bush and Blair's top aides to discuss the Iraq issue. According to a memo summarizing the meeting that was written by David Manning (then Blair's foreign policy adviser and later British ambassador to Washington), Bush actually indicated that he was willing to provoke a confrontation with Saddam. This summary has never been disputed by the White House.
Among the ways Bush proposed to provoke a confrontation was to paint U2s to look like UN airplanes. The theory was that if Saddam tried to fire on them, it would justify military action. I have to say that in reading this, a chill went down my spine. The image I immediately got was of how Hitler started World War II--with a purported violation of the German border by Poland. SS men disguised as Polish soldiers were to stage a phony attack on a German radio station located right on the border, and leave drugged concentration camp inmates dying as "casualties."
This Manning memo got limited play in the press--it was mentioned only in passing in an NYT front-page story in March 2006. However, even without the plans to use U2 aircraft disguised in UN colors, the memo is absolutely damning and proves that the invasion of Iraq is a criminal act.
But behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair's top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.
"Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning," David Manning, Mr. Blair's chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote in the memo that summarized the discussion between Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and six of their top aides.
"The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March," Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. "This was when the bombing would begin." (emphasis mine)
It's one thing for a president to mislead his own people about a threat to the nation. But if Bugliosi and this NYT story are to be believed, then the invasion of Iraq is an American war of aggression, and all of the deaths of the American soldiers up to this point amount at the very least to second-degree murder. As Bugliosi puts it in his book:
[I]f a conspirator (or anyone for that matter) deliberately sets in motion a chain of events that he knows will cause a third-party innocent agent to commit an act (here, the killing of American soldiers by Iraqis), the conspirator is criminally responsible for that act.
As most of us know, Bush knew as early as 2002 that there was no evidence of an imminent Iraqi threat. That year, he made a speech claiming that Iraq posed an imminent threat on the same day that he was almost certainly informed by the CIA that in fact there was no threat. So any assertion of our right to self-defense on Bush's part goes up in smoke. Without an American claim of self-defense, we can only assume that the Iraqis were well within their rights to defend themselves against an unlawful invasion--and under the law, this makes every American death a murder for which Bush is guilty.
Bugliosi does throw water on one thing that many of us (including myself) have been screaming for years--that Bush and friends should be brought before The Hague on war-crimes charges. At the end of the book, Bugliosi says that under the terms of the ICC treaty, the ICC only has original jurisdiction in matters where the courts of the defendant's nation are "unwilling or unable" to prosecute the defendant. Bugliosi proves that even if no U.S. Attorney brings him up on charges, under the long arm statutes of most states any state attorney general or local district attorney can indict Bush for the murders of any soldier living in their jurisdiction. The only other route would be if the UN Security Council remands the case to the ICC--but even if that were to overcome a possible veto by London, it's not likely Washington would turn him over for prosecution.
So the onus is now on us. After Bush's term is over, we should bombard our U.S. Attorneys, state attorneys general and district attorneys with demands that Bush be prosecuted for murder and conspiracy to commit murder. I never thought I'd make such a call, but a cursory review shows that the evidence against this president is simply overwhelming.