I cannot say anything about the production quality of this book as I bought and downloaded it as an audiobook, from Audible. I ‘read’ a lot of books through my ears these days, an approach that I can recommend. The competent reader of this book is Marc Cashman, who never grates on the ear and even manages to sound like George W. Bush when reading out quotes by the President – though thankfully the impersonation is not close enough as to make the meaning unclear.
Bugliosi clearly holds George W. Bush in the utmost contempt. He believes Bush has broken the law, is indifferent to his country and people, is probably incompetent, and takes too much time off from the most important job in the USA. For these several reasons Bugliosi believes Bush to be unfit for the high office that he holds, and I have to say that his case is compelling. My only concern is that Bugliosi’s assassination of Bush’s character, though fully justified, carries on interminably throughout the volume. This could be defined as ‘sneering’, which could give detractors of the book a chance at the ‘Sir Humphrey’ defence, which is something like – “If you can’t argue against the conclusions of the report, throw mud at its author.” Having said that, this is my only complaint about the book. The author, as he has every right to be, is outraged at what has been done by Bush and his cronies. I know a great many other people are too.
The author takes us trough the evidence showing that George W. Bush took his country, and others, to an unnecessary war under false pretences. This is the first time that I have come across all the various items placed together in one watertight case. Bugliosi believes that from this evidence it should be possible to successfully try Bush for murder. The murders would be of the American military personnel killed in the war. Although nobody is saying that Bush actually killed anybody himself, Bugliosi argues that Bush’s criminal action in taking his country to war caused those deaths and so Bush is responsible for them. As Bugliosi was an extremely successful prosecutor himself, I have to believe that he is correct. He even outlines possible cross-examination schemes should Bush take the witness stand and offers his help to any current or future USA prosecutor courageous enough to take on the challenge. Mention is also made of Bush’s conspirators – Cheney and Rice (and possibly Rumsfeld) and any part they may play in a future prosecution. In case anybody is running away with the idea that Bugliosi is only concerned with the American dead, I should say that throughout the book he frequently mentions the other deaths caused by this awful war – those of Iraqi military and civilian personnel, including women and children – though I suspect that his estimate of 100,000 Iraqi dead is a large underestimate.
Of course, it is one thing outlining such a prosecution, but quite another bringing it about. Given that the current Congress has so far stalled all moves to impeach Cheney and Bush, it seems unlikely that the American Establishment, after Bush leaves office, will choose to try a former President for murder. However, Bugliosi argues that it would be possible to bring charges in a court covering any area that was the home of any of the American dead. As Bugliosi states, even if no prosecution ever happens, it is probable that George W. Bush will spend the rest of his life having to worry about his collar being felt. The author describes this as the least he could do to try to bring Bush to some kind of justice for the hundreds of thousands who died in the Iraq war.
Bugliosi makes only a passing mention of the torture of prisoners in American custody, but the subject is germane, and so here is a digression. Torture is the subject of another recent book – Torture Team: Deception, Cruelty and the Compromise of Law by Philippe Sands. Torture has recently been proved to have been authorised and ordered from the White House itself so one supposes that the same crowd could be brought to court for that also. Sands mentions that the Military Commissions Act of 2006 included clauses awarding retrospective immunity from prosecution for War Crimes to the Administration and its representatives. Although this must be taken as an admission by Bush and his team that they may be guilty of War Crimes, it will ensure that no such prosecution can be brought within the USA. This may make them feel safe, but it does clear the way for any other country, being a signatory to the Geneva Conventions, to arrest and try anybody they suspect of being involved in such torture, should they step foot on their sovereign territory. Sands stresses that this would not be a right as much as a duty. Perhaps the current cabal in the White House will be stuck in the USA for the rest of their lives?
In later chapters Bugliosi berates Bush and his team for ignoring intelligence warnings in 2001 (pre 9/11) about serious potential terrorist threats to the USA. He also berates Bush for not delivering on his promise to bring Osama bin Laden to justice – preferring to go after Saddam Hussein instead, who, it has been proved, had no involvement in the 9/11 attacks at all.
The author finishes the book with a section describing the decline of America from a country respected around the world to one vilified in many countries. Although it is probably not Bush that started this decline, it is certainly Bush in recent years who has provided most of the reasons for its even steeper rush downwards. Sadly, the American military has shown itself willing to follow illegal orders, and Bugliosi feels that the modern American armed services, in some part at least, show less humanity than those of previous generations.
A successful, hard-nosed American prosecutor has written this book. He is a specialist in the area he writes about, so his opinions should be taken seriously, though so far the mainstream media has ignored this book. It is currently No. 17 on the New York Times Bestseller List, though as far as I can tell neither that newspaper, nor any other famous newspaper in either this country or the USA, has otherwise mentioned it. In his introduction Bugliosi explains that his normal publisher considered this book too hot to handle and that it took some time for him to find another publisher courageous enough to publish it.
In recent years it is not just those actions described in this book that have contributed to the loss of freedoms and civil liberties in the USA and other parts of the World. Unless we start holding our leaders to account under the law, things can only get worse. Vincent Bugliosi has written an important book pointing us in the right direction, should anybody be willing to listen.
I first published this review on my then website on 22nd June 2008.
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