Is it possible to prosecute a former U.S. president for crimes committed while in office? The Washington Post’s Steven Levingston interviewed author Charlotte Dennett (The People v. Bush: One Lawyer’s Campaign to Bring the President to Justice and the National Grassroots Movement She Encounters Along the Way) on his blog, “Political Bookworm,” to find out if the people have a case.
From the Washington Post:
Attorney Charolotte Dennett is on a mission, and it’s summed up in the title of her book, “The People v. Bush: One Lawyer’s Campaign to Bring the President to Justice and the National Grassroots Movement She Encounters Along the Way,” published by Chelsea Green Publishing in February. She made headlines in 2008 when she ran for attorney general of Vermont on a platform to prosecute President Bush for murder and signed up Vincent Bugliosi as her special prosecutor if she won. She lost but continues to push her cause. We posed a few questions to her by email.
What is the basis of your charge?
George W. Bush took our nation to war in Iraq on false pretenses, lying to Congress and the American people that Saddam Hussein was a “great danger to our country” when this was not the case, according to his own intelligence agencies. He absolutely knew death would result from sending troops into harm’s way. At the very least he engaged in an inherently dangerous act with reckless disregard for the consequences and indifference to human life, which constitutes implied malice and 2nd degree murder. Bush is also guilty of war crimes in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the 1996 War Crimes Act. As the ultimate “decider,” he authorized severe torture methods on “high level” detainees.
Does any precedent exist?
There are sound legal precedents for trying Bush in a state criminal court (assuming that the political atmosphere in Washington will not be conducive to a federal trial). Those precedents include:
1) the underlying crime of conspiracy to commit murder, which confers jurisdiction to a state provided there is a) agreement between two or more people (i.e Bush and Cheney in D.C.) to b) further the conspiracy by committing an overt act that occurs within the state (lying to the American people in their separate states through a national TV broadcast that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat )