Charlotte Dennett, the Progressive Party candidate for attorney general said Thursday that if elected she would assign the man who put Charles Manson behind bars to try Pres. George W. Bush on charges of murder, and conspiracy to commit murder.
That prosecutor — 74-year-old Vincent Bugliosi of Los Angeles — joined Dennett at a Burlington press conference. She is the first candidate, or elected official, in the country to publicly sign on to Bugliosi’s legal theory that Bush can be tried for murder once he leaves office.
Bugliosi, a registered Democrat, said his impetus is not partisan. In fact, even as a Democrat he backed McCain in 2000.
Bugliosi’s basic premise is that Bush lied to U.S. citizens and Congress before invading Iraq, and, given the more than 4000 soldiers and tens of thousands of civilians who have been killed since the war began, Bush can therefore be tried for conspiracy to commit murder
Vermont knows this loss perhaps more than any other state.
“Vermont has had the highest per capita highest losses of any state in the nation, 36 communities have had town meetings where they voted for impeachment,” said Dennett. And, Vermonters are frustrated the impeachment effort didn’t go anywhere, she added.
In order for her to appoint Bugliosi and take the case forward, Dennett first has to oust long-term Democrat Attorney General Bill Sorrell. Sorrell was appointed to the post in 1997 and elected to the job in 1998. He faces Dennett, Republican Karen Karin, and Liberty Union candidate Rosemarie Jackowski this fall.
Bush needs to be held accountable for not just war deaths, but the use of torture, illegal detention and suppression of dissent. Dennett was inspired to take up this case after reading Bugliosi’s new book, aptly titled The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder.
“What we want to do and are determined to do is return to a principle to what this nation is all about and that is that no man — even the president of the United States — is above the law,” said Bugliosi. “The evidence on his guilt is clear.”
Bugliosi claims the evidence that Bush lied to the American people and Congress is clear. One item: On Oct. 1, 2002 Bush told the nation that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat, while just six days earlier he had received a report saying just the opposite.
A document called “The White Paper” — the combined findings of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies — said Hussein was not a threat. That information was deleted from the version of the report provided to Congress, claims Bugliosi. In fact, the report said Hussein would only become a threat if he knew his country was attacked. That report has since been fully declassified.
“What could possibly be worse and more criminal than for Bush and his people to keep this all-important conclusion from the American people?” said Bugliosi.
On the issue of whether Congress would be complicit in his conspiracy charge, Bugliosi said no. The reason? The consent lawmakers provided by giving the OK to go to war and then later funding the war is negated because that consent was based on fraudulent evidence, he said.
If elected, Dennett said she would begin to assemble her team and establish a legal case before Bush officially leaves office on January 20. She also said she would raise money to pay for the prosecution, rather than use taxpayer dollars.
Bugliosi believes while Bush could be pardoned for federal crimes, he could not be immune to state prosecution. Also, Bush could not be tried by an international criminal court because the U.S. was not a signatory to its creation back in 2002.
As a Los Angeles District Attorney, Bugliosi successfully prosecuted 105 out of 106 felony jury trials, including 21 murder convictions without a single loss. He is best known for prosecuting Charles Manson, an experience he documented in Helter Skelter.
Dennett has been practicing law in Vermont since 1997 and has been an investigative journalist for more than 30 years.