By William Fisher
The scene is a Federal Grand Jury room. There, impaneled ordinary citizens listen intently as a veteran Federal prosecutor asks them to return an indictment unique in American history.
The charge is Conspiracy to Defraud the United States. And the defendants are President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
On the first day of Grand Jury proceedings, the Prosecutor addresses the jurors.
“Please remember that you must decide the case based solely on the evidence that’s presented and applicable law, without regard to prejudice or sympathy. In other words, your politics, and any personal feelings you may have toward the defendants – positive or negative – should have no bearing on your deliberations.”
The prosecutor then passes out the indictment, reminding jurors, “don’t forget your reading glasses…”
The indictment charges that the defendants “did knowingly and intentionally conspire to defraud the United States by using deceit, craft, trickery, dishonest means, false and fraudulent representations, including ones made without a reasonable basis and with reckless indifference to their truth or falsity, and omitting material facts necessary to make their representations truthful, fair and accurate, while knowing and intending that their false and fraudulent representations would influence the public and the deliberations of Congress with authorization of a preventive war against Iraq, thereby defeating, obstructing, impairing, and interfering with Congress’ lawful functions of overseeing foreign affairs and making appropriations.”
Over the next seven days, the grand jurors evaluate a 64-point case presented by the Federal Prosecutor. They hear compelling supporting testimony from three FBI agents. They battle their way through thousands of pages of documentation supporting the alleged crime.
Of course, none of this actually happened – nor is it likely to happen. Rather, it is the scenario of a new book about a hypothetical case, presented to a hypothetical Grand Jury, with hypothetical witnesses.
Only the prosecutor is real. She is Elizabeth de la Vega, a retired government lawyer with more than 20 years of experience. She served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Minneapolis, and a member of the Organized Crime Strike Force and Branch Chief in San Jose, California.
Her book is titled, simply, U.S. v. George W. Bush et al. It will be published in December by Seven Stories Press. Amazon.com is currently taking orders for the book.
Why did Ms. de la Vega write this book? She says, “The President will not be held accountable for misrepresenting the prewar intelligence unless and until Congress conducts hearings similar to the Watergate hearings. As yet, however, we seem painfully incapable of reaching that point.”
She adds, “Although the evidence of wrongdoing is overwhelming, the facts are so complicated that it’s impossible to have a productive debate about them in the political sphere. One forum where that’s not true is the courtroom.”
Does she believe that her book will lead to making her hypothetical case real? She writes, “Consider this my 911 call. I’m calling on Democrats and Republicans to do the right thing…and convince Congress to do the right thing. I am not talking about bringing people to justice in the vengeful sense that President Bush employs. I am talking about effecting justice…holding out highest government officials accountable for…a criminal betrayal of trust that is strikingly similar to, yet far worse, than the fraud committed by Enron’s top officials.”
She told us, "Many of the victims of the President’s fraud – millions of Iraqis – have no voice in the United States, but the millions of Americans who were deceived by the President’s fraud do have a voice. We should use it, loudly and repeatedly, to pressure Congress into holding the President, the Vice President and their top-level aides accountable for tricking the nation into war."
The indictment takes jurors from the prewar period and the “regime change” influence of the neoconservative group, Project for the New American Century, to the attacks of 9/11, to the formation of the shadowy Iraq Group inside the White House, to the preparation of war plans beginning in September 2001, to the distortion of intelligence information regarding Iraq’s WMD capabilities and programs, to President Bush’s strategy sessions with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, to actions designed to end the United Nations inspections, to the abandonment of multilateral diplomacy, to Colin Powell’s deeply flawed presentation to the UN Security Council, to Congressional authorization of the use of force.
It sets out 19 “Overt Acts” allegedly committed by the defendants to “market” the need for preemptive invasion – based largely on their public statements via the media in which, among other things, Administration officials professed absolute certainty about Saddam Hussein’s WMDs, ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda, use of aluminum tubes to process uranium, to the warnings from then-National Security Advisor Rice and Vice President Cheney that the smoking gun could be “in the form of a mushroom cloud.”
Some of Ms. de la Vega’s readers may be disappointed that we never learn about the decision of the Grand Jury. But that’s one of the points of the book – it’s the reader who is sitting on the jury.
This slender book is a fascinating, suspenseful, fact-based read. It is a volume that should be read by all those who seek truth and clarity – especially those who returned to Congress after November 7.