In United States v. George W. Bush et al.
, former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega brings her twenty years of experience and her passion for justice to the most important case of her career. The defendants are George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, and Colin Powell. The crime is tricking the nation into war, or, in legal terms, conspiracy to defraud the United States.
Ms. de la Vega has reviewed the evidence, researched the law, drafted an indictment, and in this lively, accessible book, presented it to a grand jury. If the indictment and grand jury are both hypothetical, the facts are tragically real: Over half of all Americans believe the president misled the country into a war that has left over 2,500 American soldiers and countless Iraqis dead. The cost is $350 billion-and counting.
By revisiting public statements, official documents and journalistic reports from the months leading up to the Iraq invasion, de la Vega builds a legal case that President Bush and top members of his administration engaged in a conspiracy to "deceive the American public and Congress into supporting the war." Drawing on her experience as a federal prosecutor, as well as the work of scholars and legal experts, she brings a well-honed legal perspective to the issue. She presents her argument in transcript form as a hypothetical weeklong presentation to a grand jury, including extensive testimony from three fictional investigative agents. Despite her somewhat specialized approach, the author clearly defines the legal terms and issues and avoids jargon. If anything, the book feels casual and straightforward to a fault: awkward asides about room temperature and coffee breaks, meant to humanize de la Vega's hypothetical grand jurors, are contrived; in explaining some of her claims, she relies too much on an analogy to the Enron fraud. Still, whenever she focuses on the issues at hand—most compellingly in her final analysis of the administration's spurious claims about Iraq's nuclear weapons program—de la Vega makes a persuasive case. (Dec. 1)