An Interview with Vincent Bugliosi - Part 2
Michael Collins: Bush, Manson, and a Media Blackout on Prosecuting Bush
An Interview with Vincent Bugliosi - Part 2
If a man carefully plans and executes the killing of another, we call him a murderer, arrest and try him, then send him off to the nearest death chamber. In many states, individuals convicted of three felonies are subject to an automatic life sentence under a program quaintly referred to as the "three strikes and you're out law." Justice for ordinary citizens in the United States may not be swift but when executed, it is final and unforgiving.
But when a national leader fabricates evidence to support the reasons for war thus causing death to thousands of soldiers and hundreds of thousands of civilians, what do we do? We give him 24 hour a day, 7 day a week protection, a stretch limo and a deluxe plane with all the gas he'll ever need, and a house full of history and helpers in the middle of the nation's capitol. We call him "Mr. President."
Renowned prosecutor and best selling true-crime author, Vincent Bugliosi, has a different idea in his book, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder.
In 2001, the newly elected president began planning the Iraq invasion and occupation described by his Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill:
"From the very beginning, there was a conviction, that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go," says O'Neill, who adds that going after Saddam was topic 'A' 10 days after the inauguration - eight months before Sept. 11." (CBS News, Jan. 11, 2004).
Investigative reporter Ron Suskind recently reported that faked letters linking Iraq to the 911 attack were coming from the White House. The Bugliosi book explains how the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate was distorted to mislead Congress and citizens into thinking that Iraq was an imminent danger to the United States. The evidence used to support the Iraq invasion was not just flawed. It represented deliberate distortions and deletions that mislead the nation into a war that had little, if anything, to do with national defense.
This has happened before. The Viet Nam War began in earnest with a major escalation after a reported attack on two United States naval vessels in the Gulf of Tonkin that never occurred as described. The incident was a fabrication to justify a major war. It took four decades for the truth about that "attack" to emerge.
Unlike President Lyndon B. Johnson, George W. Bush lives in a time of quickening, a digital age based on the citizens free network, the Internet. In just weeks, highly motivated citizens began to expose the absence of any rationale for war. This started the unraveling.
What is the outcome for our leaders after their war produced deaths and injuries reaching the tens of thousands for United States soldiers plus more than a million deaths of Iraqi civilians lost in civil chaos produced by the war?
I interviewed Vincent Bugliosi on Sunday, August 3, 2008 for 90 minutes. Part 1 of this series conveyed Vincent Bugliosi's core case for prosecuting George W. Bush for murder. In Part 2, Bugliosi discusses the nature of the current president compared to other's he's prosecuted, the fears that allow the right wing to paralyze the nation, and the mainstream media lockout of this book, so unlike the open embrace he's received for prior works.
INTERVIEW Part 2
Vincent Bugliosi (VB): I've prosecuted a lot of murderers, and it was never personal with me. By that I mean I wasn't emotionally involved. Certainly the survivors of the murder victims, it was personal with them. They were emotionally involved, but prosecutors are not supposed to get personal. They're not supposed to get emotional, because the sense is that it could cloud your vision.
Michael Collins (MC): Right.
VB: With Manson, as an example, because he's the most well known, by far, of all my murder defendants, I simply viewed him as an extremely evil person who had committed horrendous murders and therefore forfeited his right to live. He deserved the death penalty, and I told the jury, "If this is not a proper case of imposition of the death penalty, no case ever would be." I even challenged the jury. I said, "If you're not willing to come back with a verdict of death in this case, then we should abolish the death penalty in the state of California. How many people would you have to kill to get the death penalty?" And they did come back with a verdict of death.
I also looked upon Manson as someone who, if he walked out of court, was going to continue to kill.
But let me tell you this: For the first time in my career, it's very personal with George Bush, and I'll tell you why. If I prosecuted him and Cheney and Rice or whoever else, Cheney and Rice it would not be personal. I would seek the death penalty against them, for sure. They deserve to suffer the ultimate penalty for what they did, no question about it. But it would not be personal. I'll tell you why it's personal with George Bush -- because the evidence is overwhelming, overwhelming. It cannot be disputed.
If anyone tries to dispute it, they're going to make a fool out of themselves if I have time to rebut what they're saying. The evidence is overwhelming that while young American soldiers -- I'm talking about 18, 19 year old kids who never had a chance to live out their dreams -- are being blown to pieces by roadside bombs in Iraq, this guy, George Bush, was having a lot of fun playing, joking, laughing on a day to day basis and enjoying himself to the very utmost. The evidence is overwhelming to that, and that's what's made it personal with me, the fact that he could do what he did, this monstrous individual, and still have fun on a daily basis when kids are being blown up, and you see Bush and he's smiling and laughing and joking and tap dancing. It's unbelievable.
"I'm feeling pretty good about life."
MC: The pictures in your book were compelling, especially those with him laughing. Of the 21 or so individuals that you've successfully prosecuted for murder, where does Bush rank?
VB: Well, he's -- let me -- you've asked a different type of question. Manson was very evil. I wouldn't say Bush is evil in that he doesn't want to kill people. But I will call him a despicable human being who's extremely coldhearted and couldn't care less, couldn't possibly care less that thousands upon thousands of people are dying horrible, violent deaths because of what he did, couldn't possibly care less. How could he care less if he has done what he has done, enjoyed life the way he has and said the things that he did? He's extremely arrogant and extremely self centered. I don't think he has any redeeming human characteristics. He's a despicable human being. But I don't think he wants to kill anyone. He just doesn't care.
MC: He doesn't care.
VB: Whereas Manson, if he had a chance, he was going to kill as many people as he could. You know, Bush, he has shown no hesitancy in saying things like this over and over again, and I've said this before and I'll repeat it now. Try to imagine Roosevelt, Truman, LBJ, Nixon during their respective wars saying things like this. They would never do it. It would not happen. You see photographs of their face during war, and those photographs reflect -- the photographs of their face reflect the grimness of the war. It's a very serious time. It's not time for fun and laughter.
Also, as I'm uttering these words, try to keep in your mind that at the very moment I'm uttering these -- at the very moment that George Bush said these words, think about the death and the horror and the suffering and the sea of blood and the screams and the mutilations of the body, the beheadings going on in Iraq as he is saying these words. These are some of the quotes: "Laura and I are having the time of our lives." "I'm in a great mood." "I'm feeling pretty good about life." "It's going to be a perfect day." Now, that remark that he made, "I'm feeling pretty good about life," that was at a December 2007 press conference.
Here's someone who has taken this nation to a war that has cost us over one trillion dollars so far with no end in sight. He's virtually destroyed an entire country, the country of Iraq, and most of all and most importantly by far, and it bears repeating, he's criminally responsible for over 100,000 people dying horrible, violent deaths. And he says he's feeling pretty good about life. It's mind boggling. It's incomprehensible. And there's no question that this man is enjoying life
(His media strategist) Mark McKinnon told the New York Times in 2005 right in the midst of this horrible war that he couldn't recall ever seeing Bush more calm, relaxed and happy, words to that effect. Bush, right in the midst of all this horror and death, told reporters at the ranch, after a hearty breakfast, what his plans were for the rest of the day, and he said, "I'm going to have lunch with Secretary of State Rice, talk a little business, take a little nap. I'm reading an Elmore Leonard book right now. Knock off a little Elmore Leonard this afternoon, go fishing with my man, Barney," Bush's dog, "have a light dinner and then head for the ballgame -- " or, "head to the ballgame, so it's a perfect day."
MC: A perfect day?
VB: "So it's a perfect day," he said. And when I read those last words by Bush, I said to myself, I said, "No, you son of a bitch, if I may call you that, Mr. President, you're not going to have a perfect day, or I should say you're not going to have another perfect day for as long as you live, if I have anything to say about it, because I'm going to put a thought in your mind (of prosecution) that you're going to take with you to your grave. It's the least I can do for the thousands of young American soldiers that came back from your war in a box or a jar of ashes and for the thousands upon thousands of innocent Iraqi men, women, children and babies who died horrible deaths because of your war. That's the least I can do." I almost said those exact words to myself when I heard him say that he's going to have a perfect day. About putting a thought in Bush's mind, I'm referring, of course, to my proposed prosecution of Bush for murder and the fact that there's no statue of limitations for the crime of murder.
MC: (Regarding the mainstream media blackout of his book)
VB: They don't want me on.
MC: How many best sellers have you had? Three or four, right?
VB: Oh, well, I've had three that got up to number one on The New York Times. No American true crime author has had more than one. I've had three, and then I've had other best sellers. "Till Death Do Us Part" was a best seller. "Reclaiming History' for one week was a best seller. That was a book that, you know, weighed seven and a half pounds and cost $57.
MC: What do they say? Do they have an explanation, or is it just --
VB: Well, I can tell you what my publicist said that -- before the book came out they start booking you, and they would call these people and say, you know, "We're representing Vince Bugliosi," and right away, "Oh, yeah, I know Vince. We've had him on the show. He's a good guest. What's the new book?" The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. And you can -- they kind of indicated to me that they could just sense the shriveling on the other end of the line. And they said, "Well, let me get back to you on this. This may be a little difficult," or, "I'll have to get back to you on this." And then, of course, they just stopped responding to emails and everything, and that was absolutely across the board. They would not have me on. It got so bad -- it got so bad that ABC Radio refused to take money from my publisher to take out a radio spot.
MC: Oh, you're not allowed to advertise either?
VB: Yeah, on ABC Radio they would not take the money.
MC: That's a first.
VB: Which is, I think, kind of mind boggling. I don't know. It just seems to me that it's mind boggling. And then, of course, as you know, I had a very difficult time getting the book published. I never had trouble before. I had to fly back to New York City, knock on doors, and it was obvious that the publishers I met with thought the book was very marketable, and they seemed to be sympathetic with what I was saying, but it was equally obvious that they were frightened. They would say things like this to me: "Mr. Bugliosi, are you sure you want to publish this book?" And one of them put it in black and white, typed it, or maybe an email, "Too hot too handle."
MC: Has anybody bothered you since it was published?
VB: No. No, there hasn't been anyone that's bothered me. But, in any event, I finally found a courageous publisher over at Vanguard Press. And then we get down to the audio level. That's something I never gave a thought to, ever. It was automatic. Reclaiming History was Simon & Schuster. This time, Peter Miller, my agent, called me and said, "Vince, I can't find any audio company in America that will do the audio on the book." We finally got the BBC to do it, thank God. That's the one -- that tape is the one that that congressman from the South heard driving back to the South from Washington, D.C. (see Part 1). There's a documentary on my book being produced at the present time for the big screen. The producers couldn't raise one penny in America for the book.
MC: Not a cent?
VB: The money came in from Canada. So it may sound presumptuous of me to say this, but this, I think, is an important story, because it is a snapshot glimpse of a nation, I think, in serious decline, with freedom of speech and expression supposedly being our most cherished constitutional right, and we say we're, what, the land of the free and the home of the brave? What has happened with my book, I think, throws into question the present vitality of both of these assumptions.
Three people independently of me told me essentially the same story, and it's something I hadn't thought about, and what they said is, "Mr. Bugliosi, the reason they're not having you on television is because of who you are." And I said, "What do you mean by that?" And they said, "Well" -- three people independently at separate times and essentially the same words. Obviously they didn't use the same words, but essentially the same words. They said, "If some nut wrote a book with a title like this, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, (we) would probably have him on because it's colorful, it's entertaining, it doesn't mean anything, it doesn't go anywhere. But you're a very serious person, and you write very serious books." And in all of my true crime books -- and I wrote about the biggest crimes of the twentieth century, the Manson case, the Simpson case, the Kennedy assassination -- I prove my case beyond a reasonable doubt.
So the right wing certainly does not want me on their shows talking about prosecuting the guy they love so much for first degree murder, where he may end up on death row. And even if they haven't read the book, they know my reputation in the area of criminal law, and they know what I do in my other books. They probably feel it's the same type of book. He's proving his case beyond a reasonable doubt, so they don't want to give voice -- they don't want to help me give voice to my message. And these three may be right.
The reality is that if you're unknown and less effective, you can get published and heard. If you're well known and highly effective, you're not allowed to disagree.
For a book of this nature, people take me seriously, because I write very, very serious books, and I can say this. This book is identical to every other true crime book I've ever written. Some people have said it's my greatest true crime book. I'm not going to say that one way or the other. It's certainly my most powerful, explosive book.
What I'm saying, Michael is that this book is identical. I present the evidence with powerful inferences and the law, the applicable law. I present the evidence and the applicable law to prove my case. That's the only way I'm capable of writing.
MC: 130,000 have sold right now, or it's probably above that, isn't it?
VB: I really don't know what the number is, but the book is a best seller. It's number ten this week on the New York Times, and that number is not a particularly high number for me, but I can tell you that the publisher is ecstatic about it, because they say, "Vince, come on. This is incredible. You've been essentially blacked out by the mainstream media, and you're still a New York Times best seller."
Why am I a best seller? Well, one reason is the tremendous word of mouth the book has been given. Number two, people like you, Michael, who are giving me a voice to convey my message to the American people. And progressive radio. By the way, that New York Times article, my publicists were high fiving it back there before it came out. They thought it was going to open up the media to me, because of The New York Times article. I'm proud of them, because they're at the pinnacle of the mainstream establishment, and they've kind of chided the rest of the media for blacking me out. It did not open up the media at all, or hardly at all. I was on one show -- what's the -- not McDougall.
MC: On television?
VB: Cavanaugh, Scavanaugh --
MC: Oh, Scarborough.
VB: Scarborough. I was on the Scarborough show early in the morning.
CNN came to the house and talked to me for a couple of minutes on the blackout, very, very little, and then they wanted to do a regular interview with me. And they were disgraceful, absolutely disgraceful. They interviewed me for around 20 minutes, taped it, and then they put four and a half minutes out there that basically almost converted it into a pro Bush piece
What they did is they totally bastardized the 20 minutes. And this was CNN. Now, people have asked me, "What's the genesis of all this?" And I'm no authority on this, because I haven't studied contemporary history, but I can tell you just my sense, it's the despicable right wing in America. They have transformed this country into a nation where people like myself -- and many other people said the same thing -- for the first time ever do not feel 100 percent comfortable. They have transformed us into a nation where someone as honorable and decent as Mario Cuomo could say, "I respect Rush Limbaugh," an uncommonly loathsome individual.
MC: I had not read that until I read it in your book. I was stunned.
VB: Yeah. If I may be so presumptuous, Mario Cuomo does not respect Rush Limbaugh. That would not be humanly possible. Limbaugh is just endlessly reprehensible. And yet he said that, and I think he said it because he's sufficiently intimidated to say that. People yield to fear. They capitulate to fear, and they cater to the source of the fear. The left fears the right in America. Why? Well, the far left and the far right are both daffy, zany, but there's a big difference. The people on the far left are not mean people. They may be crazy, but they're not mean. The people on the far right are mean spirited, horrible human beings. They're rotten from the top of their head to the bottom of their feet. And the left fears the right in America. That's why the left leaning stations, networks and cable, will not have me on, because they're fearful of being savaged by the right if they have me on.
MC: Well, and then there's the element of corporate ownership too, because if CNBC or NBC has you on, their parent company, General Electric, might feel a little heat.
VB: Right. Right.
MC: And you talked about that in the book. Has anybody accused you of class warfare yet? That's what they always do.
VB: Class warfare, no. No, I haven't heard that yet. I do want to say this, that I'm much older than you, and in the America that I grew up in, we've always had the far right, but in my day they were on the fringes. They were an embarrassment. They were an absolute embarrassment to people like Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, even the first President Bush. But now they've taken over the party. They've always been out there, but they used to be on the fringes, and they've taken over now.
Since Bush is a conservative Republican and so are they, anything he does, anything at all, including murder, is just fine with them, just fine. Can you imagine what these people would be doing to Clinton if Clinton had done the same identical thing that Bush did with respect to Iraq? They would be skinning him alive if they had a chance. So these are phony, despicable human beings. They've taken over the party. They've terrified the nation. And I went off on a riff, but I think they are the ones responsible for my being blacked out, the fear of the right in America.
Now, you talk about corporations. That's true, but what about -- and I'm not going to mention names right now, although in due time I'm going to out these people either on TV or radio or in the second edition of this book. And they know who they are. What about the people out there who are members of the left who are not terrified of the right and they call Bush a murderer, a criminal and everything else? If it was all corporate, why would their corporations permit them to do that, would they permit them to do that? And these people are not having me on either.
MC: The people on the left?
VB: They're on the left. They're not afraid of the right. This is a small group of people, and they won't have me on either. These are the people with whom I'm very angry, very angry. I'm not angry with the liberal people who are frightened of the far right, because I'm not in a position to be angry with someone who's terrified. I don't respect them, necessarily, but I'm not angry with them, because they're frightened. They're terrified of their own shadow. But I am angry with those who are not terrified of the right and their corporations apparently -- the ones who are in charge or own the network they're with (which) apparently is not handcuffing them -- or what would the word be -
VB: Gagging is the word. They're not gagging them, and yet they won't have me on either.
MC: Right. Well, it's self censorship perhaps, or self preservation. I heard Orson Welles years ago, and this is a partial quote, but he said: 'In Europe during World War II, people betrayed their friends to save their lives. In America, during the McCarthy era, people betrayed their friends to save their swimming pools." I've never forgotten that. They may take a pay cut, they may not get to ride in the jet next to the chairman, but the point you bring up is absolutely vital in that you're talking about people, all of those around him (Bush), serving him and saying, "I guess this is just -- this is what happens during a war."
VB: That's what they say. I have talked to conservative acquaintances of mine, and I say, "Do you feel bad at all?" Because I do. Whenever I hear of Iraqis or Americans getting killed over there, it immediately depresses me. I said, "If you hear about a hundred innocent Iraqi civilians in a mosque or a market blown to pieces over there, don't you get upset?" "No, no." they say. "Why? That's what happens during wartime." Let me tell you about these people. I don't want to embarrass them, but I can tell you -- I can give you a 99 percent guarantee they don't even care when American soldiers are blown to pieces. They don't care.
But they don't want to bring him to justice, and they don't want to give me a voice to bring him to justice. So, no, you're right. There are millions of Americans that (would be) supportive of what I'm doing, if they knew about it. I would say that 90 percent of American people don't know this book is even out there.
MC: Well, maybe the answer to that is in this: the mainstream media has deliberately censored, as badly as Bush has, the truth about Iraq all along. Yet today 70 percent of the people oppose that (war). Where did they get the information? They got it from friends and family who got it from the Internet and from union halls and from discussions. The Internet is really, as you're finding out, a powerful alternative.
VB: Well, I find out indirectly, because people print stuff off of the Internet and they send it to me. But I don't have a computer myself. But I do get stuff from the Internet all the time.
Next - a look at CNN's hatchet job of their interview with Vincent Bugliosi
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