Friday, April 23, 2010

Book Review: "The People v. Bush: One Lawyer's Campaign to Bring the President to Justice and the National Grassroots Movement She Encounters Along the Way"

It takes a certain amount of guts to advocate the criminal prosecution of a president, even one so seemingly universally despised as George W. Bush.  And as far as making it a major part of a campaign for state attorney general . . . well, the only thing behind that idea is insanity, right?  Wrong.

Charlotte Dennett, a lawyer, writer, and Progressive party member in Vermont, did exactly that during the 2008 elections, turning conventional wisdom on its head and flabbergasting the mainstream media.  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" is a chronicle of her campaign and the lessons she learned from it.  At the same time, she draws on the work of former federal prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi in order to provide the legal framework behind the idea of prosecuting George Bush for murder.

Yes, murder.  The murder of thousands of Americans and Iraqis killed in a war that was started under false pretenses and only "justified" by tortured legal reasoning.  But Dennett doesn't stop with the former president.  She also accuses top Bush administration officials: Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, John Ashcroft, and most of all, John Yoo and Jay Bybee, authors of the now infamous torture memos and the justifiers extraordinaire of the Iraq war.  Most people, if they think Bush & co. committed any crimes except stupidity, they want to prosecute them for war crimes.  Unfortunately, since the U.S. refuses to recognize the ICC in The Hague, that is unlikely (there are, however, justices in Spain and Great Britain pursuing indictments against him).  But as Dennett points out, there are 50 attorneys general of states, one federal attorney general, and multiple district attorneys, all of whom could prosecute Bush for murder under universal jurisdiction and the effects doctrine.  For more information on the legal aspects of the case, I refer you to Dennett's website,

No one is too powerful to be touched in this book.  In addition to the Bush administration officials, Dennett takes to task her own Senator Patrick Leahy, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Attorney General Eric Holder, President Obama, and the media.  This is an expose of the political maneuvering that went on before the Iraq war, as well as after.  Dennett brings the fresh insight typical of third-party candidates, not afraid to take to task those who have been found (in her mind) in violation of morality, ethics, and the constitution.

It doesn't matter if you agree with the prosecution of Bush or not, this is a valuable book to read.  It is a call for the accountability that has been absent from Washington for too long.  Dennett combines a fun, relatable style with sober legal reasoning and pages of valuable information on how to get involved with grassroots political movements all across the country.  It's an inspiring story, and one that should be relevant to seasoned politicians and young activists alike.

1 comment:

  1. Well, I just wanted to thank you guys for this review. (I'm the author). Its great to see people of "the next generation" being so
    in touch with what's going on. I'll look for your email in case this comment gets lost.
    Meanwhile, hope you'll join the FB group I set up, Accountability Now!
    Charlotte Dennett