Many of us have fantasies of retribution against President George W. Bush. Seward Park-based Bob Alexander'ês fantasy is to try Bush on murder charges for the deaths in Iraq of more than 4,000 U.S. soldiers who perished in a war propelled by lies.
On Saturday, Alexander, a Seattle online coffee seller, his wife Arminda, and maybe 20 like-minded folks will gather at the Alexanders'ê home to ship 2,200 copies of Vincent Bugliosi'ês 2008 book, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder (Vanguard Press), to county prosecutors across the country.
Their goal is to convince at least one brave prosecutor to bring a first-degree murder case against Bush and top figures in his administration, including Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice, and Karl Rove. Alexander and Bugliosi want the death penalty for Bush.
Bugliosi, who successfully prosecuted Charles Manson for murder and co-wrote the book Helter Skelter about the Manson case, argues that there are strong grounds because Bush caused the death of American soldiers with malice aforethought, 'êwithout any lawful excuse of justification.'ê Any prosecutor whose county suffered Iraq war fatalities has jurisdiction, he contends.
So Bugliosi and Alexander want every prosecutor in a county that lost a soldier in the war — 2,200, Alexander found — to read the book and consider taking up the case.
'êIt'ês a clear way of trying to get some sort of accountability for some of the worst things that ever happened in this country'ês history,'ê Alexander said.
It'ês an ambitious project. Alexander, 57, raised nearly $16,000 to cover the mailing costs — mostly from donations sent by listeners of liberal talk radio host Mike Malloy after Malloy discussed Alexander'ês project. Bugliosi'ês publisher sold Alexander copies of the book at the $3 cost. He still needs another $1,000 or so.
Alexander spent a week researching the names and residences of soldiers who died in Iraq, and matching them with the country'ês district attorneys. 'êIt was grim work, and I was pretty happy when I was done,'ê Alexander said.
After the books have been mailed, Alexander, who started a website to promote his crusade, will encourage everyone to call their local county prosecutor and ask them what they plan to do.
So far, no prosecutors have risen to Bugliosi'ês challenge, which he first announced last year. During the 2008 campaign a candidate for the Vermont Attorney General'ês office vowed to appoint Bugliosi as special prosecutor to charge Bush with murder, but she lost the election in November.
A spokesman for King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg'ês office said his office would take a look at the Bugliosi book when it arrives, but that he is "hard-pressed" to see how the office would have jurisdiction given that the alleged murders did not take place in King County.
That'ês not surprising. Bugliosi'ês book doesn'êt convince me that a murder prosecution of Bush is legally, let alone politically, viable. Neither does he convince Myles Malman, a former state and federal prosecutor who served on the U.S. attorney team that successfully prosecuted Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega on drug charges in Miami in 1990. 'êIt'ês absolutely absurd,'ê said Malman, a white collar defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. who admits he'ês no fan of Bush and the Iraq war. 'êThe president has immunity for acts done within the scope of office. He was acting under the War Powers Act, which gives him authority to commit U.S. soldiers overseas to combat actions. And Congress voted to give him authority.'ê
Bugliosi counters that Malman doesn'êt know what he'ês talking about, that presidents do not have immunity for criminal actions, and that Bush lied to Congress to win approval for the Iraq war.
A much more convincing argument can be made for prosecuting Bush and his cronies for conspiring to commit torture against detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay. Former New York congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman and others have made that case. Such a prosecution could conceivably be carried out in the International Criminal Court, the courts of a European country, or even a U.S. federal court.
But the prospects of a U.S. federal investigation and prosecution are doubtful. President Obama told ABC'ês George Stephanopoulos earlier this month that 'êmy general belief is that when it comes to national security, what we have to focus on is getting things right in the future, as opposed looking at what we got wrong in the past.'ê
Alexander is outraged that Obama would decline to act. 'êThere'ês been a lot of talk about healing and moving on, and that'ês nonsense,'ê Alexander said. 'êYou don'êt move forward after someone knocks off a liquor store and kills the owner.'ê
He also notes that this isn'êt how Americans responded to German war crimes after World War II, when the U.S. and its allies organized the Nuremberg trials. 'êThis country essentially did the same thing [as Germany],'ê he said. 'êWe invaded a country under false premises. It'ês one of the most horrible things an American can realize. That we are like them.'ê
He has no faith that the federal government or the international community will act to hold Bush and his crew accountable. That'ês why he thinks his project is essential. 'êThe higher up the food chain you go the more political it gets,'ê he said. 'êI think a local district attorney is the best place to start.'ê