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Bringing the "Perps," Bush and Cheney, to Justice

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A Review of U.S. v. Bush
By Elizabeth de la Vega
Seven Stories Press, 2006, Pp. 256. $14.95

According to President Bush, Saddam Hussein was brought to "justice," when, after being sentenced to die by a kangaroo court, he was taunted before his hanging by petulant Shiite's from Bush's puppet regime inside the Green Zone -- Baghdad's Alamo, where the quislings can cower and nominally rule on behalf of "democratic" Iraq.

Granted, Saddam was evil and his horrendous crimes demanded justice. After all, he gassed Kurds, executed hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis and launched unprovoked invasions of Iran and Kuwait, in violation of international law. Yet, the indignities and blasphemies attending Saddam's hanging seem certain to inflame the civil war raging outside the Green Zone bubble.

Moreover, it's a shame that Iraqis couldn't overthrow their own tyrant and criminal, just as it's a shame that the puppet regime's "justice" required death - officially sanctioned murder at a time when sectarian murder has become a way of life. As I heard just the other day, an eye for an eye - taken to its logical conclusion - leaves everybody blind. Somebody must call a halt.

It's also a shame that Americans seem equally incapable of bringing their criminals in the Bush regime to justice. Criminals? Yes! As I've argued in an earlier article ( ), the Bush administration's decision to launch an unprovoked invasion of Iraq violated the United Nations Charter, which, as a treaty signed by the United States, is "the supreme Law of the Land." Unprovoked war is the highest of war crimes under international law.

But, as a former federal prosecutor, Elizabeth de la Vega, demonstrates in her recent book, U.S. v. Bush, prima facie evidence indicates that President Bush, Vice President Cheney, former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, former National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, and former Secretary of State, Colin Powell, also broke the law by violating Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.

Title 18, United States Code, Section 371 "prohibits conspiracies to defraud the United States." [p. 13] Or, as Ms. de la Vega puts it: "It is still the law of the United States that once politicians become Executive Branch officials, they are legally required to be honest and forthright about public matters." [p. 197]

A "conspiracy" is "an agreement between two or more persons to join together to accomplish some unlawful purpose." [p. 49] Moreover, "a standard jury instruction is that proof of a conspiracy does not require evidence that the defendants explicitly discussed details of the scheme or made some formal agreement." [p. 51]

"Fraud" includes lying, "but it's much more than lying." [p. 53] Under law, "a 'false' or 'fraudulent' representation is one that is: (a) made with knowledge that it is untrue; (b) a half-truth, (c) made without a reasonable basis or with reckless indifference to whether it is, in fact, true or false; or (d) literally true, but intentionally presented in a manner reasonably calculated to deceive a person of ordinary prudence or intelligence. The knowing concealment or omission of information that a reasonable person would consider important in deciding an issue also constitutes fraud." [p. 30]

Moreover, "continuing to assert something as true, even after receiving notice that would cause a reasonable person to inquire further about whether his statement is in fact true, is the same a knowingly and intentionally making a false statement." [p. 54]

Ms. de la Vega claims that Title 18, United States Code, Section 371 (conspiracy to defraud) is as applicable to the Bush administration as it was in securing the convictions of former Enron CEOs Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling. Which is to say: "As the [Enron] jury was instructed... anyone who makes representations intending that the public will rely on them, has an affirmative obligation to make sure that they are true and accurate. Representations made with reckless indifference to their truth are as false as outright lies." [p. 21]

For example, Mr. Lay "tired to convince his employees to buy stock by telling them that he had bought $4 million in stock that very month. What he didn't mention was that he had also sold $24 million." [p. 58]

Similarly, on August 26, 2002, Vice President Cheney asserted: "Simply stated there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction," [p. 173] a claim subsequently proven to be false after the U.S. invaded Iraq and found no such weapons. In support of his claim, Cheney cited evidence provided by Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, who had defected. Yet, in a blatant act of criminal fraud, Cheney failed to mention that the son-in-law also claimed that all of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction had been destroyed.

Two examples - among hundreds -- of the Bush administration's criminal indifference to the truth occurred on October 2, 2002 and October 7, 2002, just days before Congress would approve a resolution authorizing him to use force against Iraq. On October 2nd President Bush asserted: "The Iraqi regime is a threat of unique has developed weapons of mass destruction." [p. 192] And on October 7th President Bush gave a nationally televised speech in Cincinnati, Ohio, in which he claimed that Iraq "stands alone" as a unique threat.

Yet, just days before the October 7th speech, "a State Department representative was specifically informed by North Korean officials that North Korea already possessed nuclear weapons." [p. 225] Thus, the Bush administration fraudulently concealed information indicating that North Korea stood alone as the "unique" threat until after Congress approved its resolution concerning Iraq.

But, both speeches constituted attempts to defraud Congress and the American public. For, as we now know, the Director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet, testified in February 2004 that "the intelligence community had never informed the President that Saddam Hussein presented an imminent or urgent threat,"[p. 192] let alone a threat that stands alone.

Thus, the October 2nd speech, the concealment of information about North Korea's nuclear weapons and the October 7th speech constitute prima facie evidence of a conspiracy to defraud Congress.

Want more evidence of Bush's criminal violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371? Consider that, in his January 28, 2003, State of the Union address, Bush asserted that the "British have recently learned that Iraq was seeking significant quantities of uranium from Africa." Although literally true, Bush's assertion was fraudulent because it was inserted as a way to weasel around the fact that "less than four months earlier, Tenet and the CIA had excised the sentence from the president's speech in Cincinnati because the assertion could not be confirmed and was thought to be shaky." [Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack pp. 294-95]

As Ms. de la Vega notes: "Much has been written regarding what the President knew when he made this statement, but the analysis of whether this statement is fraudulent in a criminal context is very simple." Consider the following: "this President is highly involved in the speech-writing process. At the time of the speech, the public's support for the war was waning and the President wanted specific proof. If he could have phrased this assertion more strongly, he would have. It may have been literally true - the British did acquire this information - but it already had been debunked. Bush's phrasing was an attempt to deceive the American public into believing that he was vouching for the British intelligence information when he knew he could not do so." [p. 231]

Ms de la Vega also makes an impressive prima facie case demonstrating that Condoleezza Rice criminally defrauded both the Congress and the American people on September 8, 2002, when she asserted that the aluminum tubes that Iraq had attempted to purchase were "only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs." [p. 196] She's equally persuasive when indicting Vice President Cheney and President Bush for similarly fraudulent assertions about the tubes on September 8th and September 12th respectively.

Why so persuasive? Because fourteen U.S. intelligence assessments about the tubes had been produced by September 8th and twelve had "discussed problems with - or differences of opinion about - the CIA's contention that the Iraqis wanted the tubes for nuclear-centrifuge work." [p. 203] Thus, no government official possessing honesty and integrity could have made the reckless assertions that Rice, Cheney and Bush made about the aluminum tubes in September 2002.

Moreover, as Ms. de la Vega reminds us, the September 7, 2002 issue of the New York Times reported: "White House officials said today that the administration was following a meticulously planned strategy to persuade the public, the Congress and the allies of the need to confront the threat from Saddam Hussein." [p. 184] Given the facts available to us today, it appears to have been a meticulously planned strategy to defraud.

Consider that the Times article also reported, "White House officials said they began planning more intensively for the Iraq rollout in July." Then consider that, during that same month, George Tenet apparently communicated elements of this "meticulous" plan to his British counterpart, Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, Sir Richard Dearlove.

For, it was Dearlove - confidentially reporting to Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Cabinet about his recent talks in Washington (according to a "SECRET AND STRICTLY PERSONAL, - UK EYES ONLY" memo dated July 23, 2002) - who asserted: "There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable, Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy." [pp. 137-38]

This "fixing" of the intelligence explains Cheney's August fraud about Saddam's son-in-law, the frauds about the aluminum tubes perpetrated by Rice, Cheney and Bush in September, Bush's attempt to defraud Congress in early October, as well as his "uranium" fraud in January 2003 State of the Union speech.

Yet, Colin Powell's efforts to defraud America and the world about the tubes were among the most egregious. For, when he made his false assertions about Iraq's aluminum tubes to the United Nations on February 5, 2003, Powell already knew that his own State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research "was not persuaded that the tubes in question are intended for use in centrifuge rotors." [p. 212] And he already knew that the International Atomic Energy Agency had already denounced 'the possibility that the tubes had a nuclear application."[p. 213]

Ms. de la Vega also presents persuasive evidence indicating that Bush also defrauded Congress and the American public when he claimed to have no war plan on his desk and when he diverted funds ($700 million) and resources (some "1,800 U.S. troops, including the elite Fifth Group Special Forces who had tracking Osama bin Laden") from Afghanistan to Iraq. [pp. 107-112]

Nevertheless, Ms. de la Vega could have strengthened her legal case against the Bush administration's fraud, had she included the following information:

(1) Beginning in October 2001, a rogue intelligence office headed by Douglas Feith (and subsequently called Feith's "Gestapo office" by Colin Powell, see ) funneled bogus intelligence about Saddam's ties to al Qaeda up the DOD chain of command, through Paul Wolfowitz to Rumsfeld and Cheney. Throughout 2002, this bogus intelligence was given preference over the legitimate intelligence reports, which correctly found no such ties.

(2) On August 29, 2002 Bush signed a TOP SECRET National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD), titled: "Iraq: Goals, Objectives and Strategies." The product of weeks, if not months of work, the directive "was a good way to make sure everyone was operating with the same instruction." [Woodward, p. 154] One of the goals was to "free Iraq in order to eliminate Iraqi weapons of mass destruction." One of the objectives was to "minimize disruption in international oil markets." One of the strategies was "to work with the Iraqi opposition to demonstrate that we are liberating, not invading Iraq." [Woodward, pp. 154-55] Although not the "Ten Commandments," [Woodward, p. 154] this NSPD locked in the Bush drive for an invasion before he opened his so-called dialogue with the Congress and the American public, and before he took his case to the United Nations.

(3) On September 6, 2002, General Tommy Franks informed Bush: "Mr. President, we've been looking for scud missiles and other weapons of mass destruction for ten years and haven't found any yet, so I can't tell you that I know that there are any specific weapons anywhere." {Woodward, p. 173]

Unfortunately, the conspiracy to defraud continued after Bush illegal, immoral invasion. On March 30, 2003, Rumsfeld lied about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction: "We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat." Yet, not only was Rumsfeld present when General Franks expressed his doubts about WMD to President Bush the previous September, on October 12, 2002, he also made his own list of what could go wrong in Iraq. Item 13 was: "U.S. could fail to find WMD on the ground." [Woodward, State of Denial, p. 99]

And, in December 2003, some nine months after the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq proved his reckless assertions about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction to be false, ABC's Diane Sawyer pressed Bush about justifying a war to the American public by stating "as a hard fact, that there were weapons of mass destruction as opposed to the possibility that he [Saddam] could move to acquire those weapons." Put on the spot, Bush defrauded Ms. Sawyer and all Americans when he responded: "So what's the difference?"

The difference is precisely this: You, President Bush, commit fraud when you deceive the Congress and the public by making the case stronger than it actually is! You punk!

Equally unfortunate, the Bush administration conspires to defraud Americans to this very day. Thus, notwithstanding the unabated and uncritical news coverage of the "perps," you should approach all of their pronouncements with extreme skepticism.

Why? Because, by presenting evidence gained from "speeches, public remarks, White House press briefings, interviews, congressional testimony, official documents, all public intelligence reports and various summaries of intelligence, such as the reports of the Senate Select committee on Intelligence and the 9/11 commission," [p. 12] in a hypothetical grand jury setting, Elizabeth de la Vega persuasively has demonstrated that "our highest government officials employ[ed] the universal techniques of fraudsters - deliberate concealment, misrepresentations, false pretenses [and] half-truths - to deceive Congress and the American people." [p. 14]

Which prompts one final question: "When will 'our highest government officials' ACTUALLY be brought to justice?"
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Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San (more...)
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