Monday, January 12, 2009

An afternoon with Vincent "Keep Fighting" Bugliosi.

This past Saturday, January 10, I went to see Vincent Bugliosi at the North Hollywood Library. Arriving 10 minutes before the event, it was great to see him already there, signing autographs and chatting with people in line. His scheduled talk at 2pm would deal with the subject of his latest book, The Prosecution of George W. Bush For Murder, but he had no problem answering the questions of conspiracy theorists doubting his conclusions that Oswald acted alone. While I may disagree with Bugliosi on this subject, I disagree with a much a higher degree of respect than I would for Gerald Posner or any other kneejerk Warren apologist who deals with conspiracy theories dismissively as opposed to sourced point by point research as others have told me Bugliosi did in Reclaiming History.

There were probably around 100 people gathered for his speech. He spent about 45 minutes speaking about how to prosecute George W. Bush for murder, then spent about an hour and 15 minutes taking questions from the audience. It was definitely a lively, engaged crowd in agreement with his desire to put the Little Shrub behind bars. Not that he has any illusions that the road ahead will be easy. He pointed frequently during his talk to a newspaper clipping of the photo-op with President-Elect Obama with all the living ex-Presidents and Dubya. While Bugliosi has high hopes for Obama and admitted voting for him in November, he doesn't care for his talk of unity in the wake of eight years of criminal behavior if that unity means justice is denied. All of his efforts right now are focused on getting someone in power to file murder charges against Bush, Cheney and Rice. That someone would be incoming Attorney General Eric Holder, any of the 50 State Attorney Generals or any State District Attorney. He doesn't discount the possibility that in the course of trial deliberations, additional murder charges could end up being filed against Rumsfeld, Tenet or others that conspired to lie us into a war that led to the deaths of more than 4,000 Americans. But in the initial stages Bugliosi believes that in regard to Bush, Cheney and Rice there is more than enough evidence to charge them with murder and secure an indictment on the charge. What he is less certain of is whether the case would be allowed to go to trial after indictment. His assumption is that upon indictment, the case would immediately be challenged for it's precedent-setting, and the decision of whether to proceed to trial would be decided by the Supreme Court. Bugliosi stated that there are two Supreme Court justices, Scalia and Thomas, who are "a disgrace to their profession". They have already made clear how they would rule on such a case, he's not so sure how open the remaining seven would be.

In the course of detailing how Bush could be prosecuted for murder, Bugliosi cited a lot of evidence that I'm sure most of us are already familiar with regarding why he should be charged with murder. But there was one piece of evidence that he cited as smoking gun proof that the decision to go to war was not a mistake rooted in faulty intelligence, it was a deliberate lie by Bush to promote a war of aggression. That piece of evidence has been referred to as the White Paper. On October 1, 2002, Bush received a classified NIE report from the CIA which confirmed that Saddam Hussein was not an imminent threat to the United States. Yet on the evening of October 7, even after being briefed by CIA director George Tenet that morning, Bush lied by stating the exact opposite to the American people. Bush later lied to Congress by preparing a declassified version of the NIE, which has become known as the White Paper. The White Paper edited words out of the original NIE that changed the meaning completely making what had not appeared to be an imminent threat seem imminent. There were also instances where words were added to the White Paper that weren't in the original NIE, producing the same adverse effect.

When it came time to ask questions, there was one question in particular that, after extremely extensive research five years ago on the Plame Threads, both H2O Man I were curious to get Bugliosi's perspective on. I asked him what he thought of Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation of the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame and if he felt Fitzgerald could have gone farther in prosecuting Cheney. Bugliosi said that he was "very disappointed" in the outcome of that investigation. He definitely felt that Fitzgerald could have and should have gone higher up the food chain.

After concluding the Q&A session, Bugliosi received applause from everyone present, then signed autographs for everyone who brought one of his books. (Or bought, the library was selling a number of his books there) As he was signing my copy of The Prosecution of George W. Bush For Murder, I told him about my American Judas blog and that I posted at Democratic Underground as robertpausen and asked what he thought the number one thing we could do to try to ensure that Bush, Cheney and Rice would be prosecuted for murder. "Keep fighting", he said emphatically. Write to your State Attorney General, write to a US District Attorney, write to Eric Holder. Stand up to the bullies. Bugliosi reiterated an earlier point he made in response to all the questions about what really stands in the way of justice. In spite of the fact that he is an extremely respected former prosecutor with a number of books that reached #1 on the NY Times Best Seller List, the reaction of the mainstream media in regard to The Prosecution of George W. Bush For Murder has been a virtual blackout. Whereas in the past, he would have no problem upon release of a book getting instant appearances on network morning talk shows and evening cable shows to promote the sale of a new book, his agent was turned down by virtually everyone. Did you see him promote The Prosecution of George W. Bush For Murder on The Daily Show? Rachel Maddow? Even Countdown with Keith Olbermann did not invite Bugliosi on to promote this important book. Some alternative radio channels, I believe he mentioned Democracy Now, did have him on their show. But MSM? Silence.

Why was everyone so afraid? What is the source of this fear? Bugliosi lays the blame squarely on the right wing. They have taken over the Republican Party. They used to be on the fringe, he mentioned that Eisenhower disdained them (referring to McCarthy no doubt) but now they are in charge of the GOP. The problem is that Bugliosi feels the Democratic Party still hasn't found the appropriate response to such destructive behavior to put them back on the fringe for good. He brought up the question of patriotism as an example. Whenever a right winger in some way questions the patriotism of a Democrat, the typical response is, "No, I'm not. I'm a patriot because..." Bugliosi believes the more appropriate response is, "No, you are not. You're not a patriot because..." Detail exactly how their idiocy destroys the country they claim to love. Whether they have the intelligence to truly comprehend is not the point, others who do have the intelligence will comprehend and the right wing will be on the fringe again.

Before leaving the library, I shook Bugliosi's hand and told him to keep fighting the good fight. He looked me square in the eye and said, "You keep fighting too!" I walked outside beaming with pride. When will I start writing letters demanding George W. Bush be charged with murder? As soon as that helicopter carries him away from the White House eight days from now.

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