Vincent Bugliosi is one of the most successful prosecutors in this country, with a record including twenty-one murder convictions without a single loss. With a new book, he outlines his case for the prosecution of George W. Bush for murder. [includes rush transcript]
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
JUAN GONZALEZ: We now turn to a man considered to be one of the best prosecutors in this country. In his career at the LA County District Attorney’s office, he successfully prosecuted 105 of 106 felony jury trials, including twenty-one murder convictions without a single loss. Alan Dershowitz calls him “as good a prosecutor as there ever was,” and the legendary F. Lee Bailey calls him “the quintessential prosecutor.” His most famous trial, the Charles Manson case, became the basis of his classic book, Helter Skelter, the biggest selling true-crime book in publishing history. Two of his other books, And the Sea Will Tell and Outrage, also reached number one on the New York Times bestseller list.
AMY GOODMAN: Today we’re joined by the renowned lawyer and author Vincent Bugliosi. His latest book is just published; it’s called The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. He joins us from Los Angeles.
Welcome to Democracy Now!
VINCENT BUGLIOSI: Amy and Juan, I’m very happy to be on the show. I was told we’d have about forty, forty-five minutes. Now I’m told twenty minutes, so I’m going to have to make my answers very, very, very quick, unfortunately, and I don’t think we’re going to be able to get into too much. But I was hoping we’d have a long time to talk about the many issues.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, why don’t we start off by you just laying out your case and how you arrived at this, at this argument, decided to write this book?
VINCENT BUGLIOSI: Well, in my book, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, I set forth an airtight legal case against George Bush that proves beyond all reasonable doubt that George Bush took this nation to war under false pretenses, on a lie, in Iraq, and therefore, under the law, he is guilty of murder for the deaths of over 4,000 young American soldiers in Iraq fighting his war, not your war or my war or America’s war, but his war.
Interestingly enough, there have been billions of very harsh critical words written and said about George Bush, none of which he could possibly care less about. So the words are absolutely meaningless. But up until now, other than words, no one has done anything at all to George Bush. No impeachment, no investigation of him.
But this book here, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, in it, I put together a case against George Bush that could result — it absolutely could result in his being prosecuted for first-degree murder in an American courtroom. I set forth the legal architecture against him, the overwhelming evidence of his guilt and the jurisdiction to prosecute him. And I say that if justice means anything at all in America, and if we’re not going to forget about these 4,000 young American soldiers who are in their cold graves right now as I am talking to you and who came back from George Bush’s war in a box or a jar of ashes, I say we have no choice but to bring murder charges against the son of privilege from Crawford, Texas.
I may be sounding presumptuous to you right now, Amy and Juan, but I’m telling you this: I am going after George Bush. I may not succeed, but I’m not going to be satisfied until I see him in an American courtroom being prosecuted for first-degree murder.
In our segment here, I would like to talk about a couple things. You people are the general, but I’d like to get into some of the evidence against Bush, and I’d also like to talk about how he’s conducted himself throughout the entire war: having fun, smiling, laughing, enjoying himself. And you also might be interested in the story behind the story. What’s happened with this book right here, for the first time in my thirty-year career, the national TV and print media have completely blacked it out. They haven’t succeeded. The book just came out. It’s already this Sunday going to be on the New York Times bestseller list, but it’s all by word of mouth. But those are the three things I’d like to talk about. But whatever else you want to ask me, go ahead.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, let’s start off just by giving us some of the key points in the evidence, especially in the early days of the war, that you lay out in the book, from the National Intelligence Estimate, his lying about that, and so forth?
VINCENT BUGLIOSI: Yeah, OK. OK, now, there many, many things in the book, but let’s talk about a couple key pieces of evidence.
In George Bush’s first speech to the nation on Iraq and Saddam Hussein, Cincinnati, Ohio, October 7, 2002, he told the nation that Hussein was a great danger to America either by his attacking us with his weapons of mass destruction or giving those weapons to some terrorist group to attack us. And he said this attack could happen, quote, "on any given day," meaning the threat was imminent.
Unfortunately for George Bush — and I don’t know how he could get around this at his trial — on October the 1st, six days earlier, the CIA sent George Bush its 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, a report from sixteen US intelligence agencies — there’s a strong sound in my ear here, there’s a big rattling sound here. Anyway, he was sent this report representing the consensus opinion of all sixteen US intelligence agencies on the issue of whether Hussein was an imminent threat to the security of this country. There’s a lot of noise in my left ear, a constant rattle; if you can get rid of it, I’d appreciate it. And — well, it’s not stopping. And on page eight of this ninety-one-page report, page eight, it clearly and unequivocally says — and, by the way, what I’m about to tell you, to my knowledge, has never appeared in any national newspaper or magazine in America; it may have, but to my knowledge, I’ve never heard this said before in any of the major magazines or newspapers of America. Page nine — page eight, ninety-one-page report, clearly and unequivocally says that Hussein was not an imminent threat to the security of this country, that he would only be a threat if he feared that America was about to attack him. In other words, he would only be a threat if he was forced to fight in self-defense.
So we know — not “think,” but we know — that when George Bush told the nation on the evening of October the 7th, 2002, Cincinnati, Ohio, that Hussein was an imminent threat to the security of this country, he was telling millions of unsuspecting Americans the exact opposite of what his own CIA was telling him. So if we had nothing else at all, this alone shows us that he took this nation to war on a lie, and therefore, all of the killings in Iraq of American soldiers became unlawful killings and therefore murder.
But it gets worse. October 4th, three days after the October 1st classified top-secret report, Bush and his people had the CIA issue an unclassified summary version of the October 1st classified report, so that this report could be issued to the American people and to Congress. And this report came to be known as the "White Paper." And in this White Paper, the conclusion of US intelligence that Hussein was not an imminent threat to the security of this country was completely deleted from the White Paper. Every single one of these all-important words were taken out. And the question that I have is, how evil, how perverse, how sick, how criminal can George Bush and his people be? And yet, up to this point, unbelievably — and there’s no other word for it — he’s gotten by with all of this.
I’ll touch upon another piece of evidence. January 31st, 2005 — 2003 —-by the way, you’ve all heard of the Downing Street memo, got a lot of attention. If I prosecuted Bush, that would be a very insignificant part of the case, because it’s ambiguous. This is the Manning memo that seems to have gone over the head of everyone. It’s a hundred times more important than the Downing Street memo. January 31st, 2003, George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair met in the Oval Office with six of their top aides, including Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Adviser for Bush, and Blair’s chief foreign policy adviser, David Manning. Now, two months later, they go to war, because they say Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and they had to go in there and disarm Hussein and these weapons of mass destruction.
After the meeting, Manning prepares a five-page memo stamped “extremely sensitive,” in which he summarizes what was said at the meeting. And Manning writes that Bush and Blair expressed their doubts that any weapons of mass destruction would ever be found in Iraq, although two months later they went there because they said they had the weapons and we had to disarm them. But it gets much, much, much worse. Manning wrote that Bush was so worried, so upset, over the failure of the UN inspectors to find weapons of mass destruction, that he talked about three ways to, quote, "provoke a confrontation with Hussein," one of which, Bush said, was to, quote, “fly U2 aircraft, reconnaissance aircraft, over Iraq, falsely painted in United Nations colors,” and Bush said if Hussein fires upon them, this will be a breach of UN resolutions and justify war.
So here we have George Bush telling the American people, telling the world, that Hussein was an imminent threat to the security of this country, so we had to strike first in self-defense, but behind closed doors, this very small man was talking about how to provoke Hussein into a war. The very last person in the world that someone acting in self-defense would try to provoke is a person who he’s in deathly fear of, the person who’s about to kill him. If George Bush actually believed that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, which was the main reason he went to war, the very thought of provoking Hussein into a war obviously would never, ever, ever have entered his mind.
Now, I don’t know if you’re aware, but what I just told you is extremely powerful evidence of George Bush’s guilt. I was on the radio with Dennis Miller a couple days ago in LA, and I told him about the Manning memo, and I said, “Now, Dennis, you’re representing George Bush. You’re his defense attorney. After you hear Manning testify to the Manning memo on the witness stand, other than trying to hide beneath the counsel table, what would your response be?” And Dennis is very quick, very smart. He gave a good answer: he said, “I would call for a recess.” There is no answer to the Manning memo.
AMY GOODMAN: And that’s what we have to do for just one minute. Vincent Bugliosi is our guest, the renowned attorney, the man who put Charles Manson behind bars, has written a book, a new book called The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. We’ll be back with him in a minute.
AMY GOODMAN: Our guest is the renowned prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi. He has written the new book The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. He is laying out his case. You begin your book, Vincent Bugliosi, by just telling us the stories of young soldiers who have died, more than 4,000 now. What about Iraqi civilians? How do they weigh into your case as you build it against the President?
VINCENT BUGLIOSI: Well, that’s not going to prove guilt -— guilty or not guilty — but if he’s convicted of first-degree murder by an American jury and it gets into the penalty phase and the prosecutor seeks the death penalty, all of this evidence of how Bush responded to this horror in Iraq could be introduced in aggravation, just like the defense can offer evidence in mitigation.
One of the underlying emotions behind this whole thing that prompted me to do this book — well, the main thing is that he took this nation to war under false pretenses. But throughout this hell on earth that George Bush created, the evidence is very, very clear that with over 100,000 innocent Iraqi men, women and children and babies and 4,000 American soldiers dying horrible violent deaths and hundreds of thousands of their survivors crying out hysterically and having no way to cope with the unspeakable horror of it all and having nightmares over what happened, George Bush — the evidence is very, very clear — smiled through it all. In fact, you look at a photograph of Bush and six or seven other people — they’re all smiling — who has the biggest smile on his face? George Bush.
The evidence is very clear that while young American soldiers, who never even had a chance to live out their dreams, were being blown to pieces by roadside bombs in Iraq, George Bush was having fun and living life, enjoying life to the very fullest. I’m talking about running, bicycling, joking with friends, slapping backs, dancing and swiveling his hips like Elvis to blaring music, eating his hot dogs and blueberry pies, almost always seeming to be in the very best of good spirits.
And you don’t have to take my word for this. I have the photographs in the book and everything. But you don’t have to take my word for this. George Bush himself has had no hesitancy in saying things like this, and as I quote George Bush, I want you to think of two things: number one, the incredible horror and savagery and mutilation of bodies and beheadings and the sea of blood and the screams going on at the time he’s making this remark, and try to think, if you can, of Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, LBJ, Nixon, during their respective wars, saying things like this. Here’s George Bush right in the middle of all this horror: “Laura and I are having the time of our lives. It’s going to be a great — it’s going to be a perfect day. I’m in a great mood.” As recently as December 2007, “I’m feeling pretty good about life."
Now, Amy and Juan, even if George Bush was only guilty of making an innocent mistake in taking this nation to war — not murder, as I firmly believe — with all of the death and the horror and the suffering he has caused, what type of a monstrous individual is it who could literally be happy with his life? And that’s part of the emotional underpinning for this book.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Vincent Bugliosi, the other main line of evidence that you present in the book is his repeated attempts to connect Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda and to the attacks of 9/11. Could you summarize those arguments?
VINCENT BUGLIOSI: Yeah, very, very quickly. He tried to convince the American people that Hussein was involved in 9/11. Now, right after 9/11, a poll of the American people, open-ended poll, showed that only three percent of the American public believed that Hussein and Iraq were involved in 9/11. And yet, within months, that number went up to 70 percent of the American people thought Hussein was involved in 9/11. Now, if it wasn’t George Bush and his people who were responsible for it, then who was it? You? I? Danny DeVito?
Here’s what he did. Here’s what he did. He’d constantly — because what he was doing, he was trying to convince the American people of Hussein’s involvement in 9/11 by unmistakable innuendo and implication. And under the law, that’s the same thing as doing it expressly. One way he did it, he constantly talked about Hussein being an imminent threat to the security of this country, and in the same speech, sometimes the same breath, he kept talking about 9/11. Well, here’s the American people, not accustomed to a president who’s taking them to war under false pretenses, that thought’s not even entering their mind, they’re not parsing his words. They hear 9/11, and they hear Hussein being an imminent threat, and they came to the conclusion that Hussein must have been involved with al-Qaeda in 9/11.
And then he just flat out lied, by suggesting — by asserting that Hussein and al-Qaeda had terrorist connections. He’d say things like this: when you’re talking about the war on terror, you cannot distinguish between al-Qaeda and Hussein. He said that Hussein was training al-Qaeda in bomb making and the use of poisons and deadly gases. Now, the average American infers from that — I mean, it’s not too much of a leap of logic — that if Hussein and al-Qaeda have these terrorist connections and Hussein is training al-Qaeda, that Hussein must have been involved with al-Qaeda in 9/11. That was what he did by implication.
But by implication, in the law, he can’t take the witness stand and say, “Well, I never said it.” No, you didn’t say it directly, but you said it indirectly. Let’s see how far he would get in front of a competent prosecutor by saying, “I never expressly said it.” He said it by unmistakable implication. As late as August of 2006, over 90 percent of the troops in Iraq thought that it was payback time, that Hussein was involved in 9/11 and they were getting even for the American public for what Hussein and Iraq did to 9/11.
Wherever you look —- and I’ve got so much more evidence in this book. The evidence is overwhelming that this guy is guilty. And if we get a competent prosecutor, he’s going to end up getting convicted of first— degree murder. And by the way, by the way, within a very short period of time, perhaps a week, I’m going to be reaching out to the prosecutors of America — there’s close to a thousand out there — looking for a courageous prosecutor, a state attorney general, a DA — I don’t have any clout anymore. I’ve got the clout of an emaciated moth. I’m not in law enforcement. But I’m going to be reaching out to prosecutors who do have clout, who do have the authority, to go against George Bush. I’m sending them a copy of my book with a cover letter telling them to read the book, and if they agree with me that the evidence of Bush’s guilt is clear and they feel that they have jurisdiction — and I’ve spent hundreds of hours at the law library establishing this all-important point of jurisdiction — then I’m going to tell them to proceed forward, and I’m going to offer my help in any way that they see fit, which could range all the way from being a consultant to being appointed a special prosecutor.
I want to tell you just one little interesting story. There’s a lawyer back East. I spoke to him two days ago. He said, “Vince, I’m your biggest fan. I’m selling this book to everyone. I had a bet with Ralph Nader. Nader said, ‘This book will never get out; they’re going to black it out.’” And he said, “No, it’s going to become a bestseller.” It has become a bestseller now, so he won the bet with Nader. I don’t know how much they bet. In any event, he said, “Vince, I live in a county, and no citizen of this county has died so far in this war. But if a citizen of this county dies, I’m telling you, Vince, I’m going to run for district attorney. And if I become district attorney, I’m going to go after George Bush, I’m going to prosecute him.” You can extrapolate that to thousands of prosecutors around this country and maybe some law student who is hearing me talk right now and says, “You know, when I get out, I’m going to become a DA or state attorney general, and I’m going to go after George Bush.”
You’ve got to realize, there’s no statute of limitations for the crime of murder. So this could very well happen. At this stage of my life, I cannot engage in fanciful reveries. This is a very real thing that we’re talking about here. I’ve established jurisdiction on a federal and state level for the prosecution of Bush for two crimes: conspiracy to commit murder and murder. On a federal level, we’re really only talking about the Attorney General in Washington, D.C., operating through his Department of Justice. But on a state level, I’ve established jurisdiction for the attorney general in each of the fifty states, plus the hundreds of district attorneys in counties within those states, to prosecute George Bush for the murder of any soldier or soldiers from their state or county who died fighting his war in Iraq. And with all those prosecutors —-
AMY GOODMAN: Vincent Bugliosi -—
VINCENT BUGLIOSI: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: You have thirty seconds, and if you were the man who was trying this case and you were told you now have thirty seconds to sum up before the jury, what would those last words be?
VINCENT BUGLIOSI: Oh, that’s an impossible situation, except to say that the evidence is overwhelming that George Bush took this nation to war on a lie, under false pretenses, and therefore, under the law, he’s guilty of murder. And if justice means anything in America, I want you to come back with a verdict of guilty. If we’re going to become a great nation again, we cannot become a great nation — we used to be — we cannot become a great nation unless we take the first step of bringing those responsible for the war in Iraq to justice.
AMY GOODMAN: Vincent Bugliosi, we want to thank you for being with us. His book is called The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. Vincent Bugliosi himself has tried twenty-one murder cases; he’s gotten a conviction in every one.