President Bush Be Charged With Negligent Homicide?
June 26, 2002
By Mike Seely
the failure to exercise the standard of care that a reasonably
prudent person would have exercised in the same situation.
Negligent homicide: homicide resulting from the careless
performance of a legal or illegal act in which the danger
of death is apparent.
In light of recent revelations surrounding events leading
up to September 11, is it conceivable that President Bush
could be charged with either crime based on the legal definitions
provided above? Absolutely.
The American press has done a decent job of documenting communication
breakdowns between the CIA and FBI that provide some evidence
that the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon might
have been preventable. In fairness, whether such claims hold
water is highly debatable.
What has gone relatively unnoticed Stateside, while acutely
observed abroad (namely by Britain's Guardian), are
specific actions taken by Bush and his sentries in advance
of the attacks. To wit, there have been reports that early
orders given by the Bush Administration to select intelligence
agencies made it clear that they were to back off the bin
Laden family - presumably due to the President's oil-soaked
business ties to the arch evildoer's brother - instead pouring
energy into selling the American public on the necessity for
an almost pointless, Cold War-era missile shield.
Further, early areas of focus spelled out by Attorney General
John Ashcroft's office put terrorism at an alarmingly low
priority level, somewhere behind busting medicinal marijuana
providers, child pornography, the unencumbered rights of individual
gun owners and spending thousands of taxpayer dollars to cover
up a naked statue's cans.
Conservative true believers argue that there were serious
lapses in United States counter-errorism policy that predate
Bush and even President Clinton. That may be undeniable, but
at least these prior administrations placed increasingly heightened
emphasis on the threat before 3,000-some innocent people burned
to a crisp and it became politically expedient, as Karl Rove
laid out so articulately for us in his Powerpoint fumble last
In fact, the American people should now be wondering whether
it was really a coincidence at all that the terrorists chose
to strike during the tenure of a pathetically detached, wannabe
Commander-in-Chief who seems to be jogging, watching football,
eating pretzels or reading goat stories to tykes every time
something of national importance occurs.
I have nothing against any of the aforementioned activities,
and participate in countless more negligible trifles myself,
as do most Americans. President Bush may not be an articulate
orator, but he's undoubtedly a reasonably intelligent person,
in spite of caricatures to the contrary. Rather, Bush's tragic
flaw, as The New York Times' own Frank Bruni's "Ambling
Into History" so deftly insinuates, is that the guy simply
is not really all that interested in public policy.
So why did he "apply" for the job? Because he could? This
is recklessly arrogant at best, criminally negligent at worst.
It's one thing if you're a prep cook who lucks into a head
chef gig without the proper understanding of black pepper,
but it's quite another when your aspirations are aimed squarely
at becoming the leader of the free world. National security
is therefore inate, and if you don't have a royal flush of
intelligence, leadership and legislative chops, then you'd
better fold, lest your fellow countrymen pay the ultimate
Many Americans have been impressed with the President's soothing
words at Ground Zero and the subsequent attack on the Taliban.
But let's not overstate these successes. For one, it could
be argued that any compassionate spiritual leader could have
provided similarly proficient public counseling to the American
public in its time of grief. And let's not kid ourselves,
Bush wasn't exactly wielding the keys to New York City's relief
effort machinery in the aftermath of the attacks. That driver's
seat distinction belonged to Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, beyond
a shadow of a doubt.
Furthermore, the Unites States defeat of the Taliban (if
you can even call it that, seeing as Al Qaeda is still operative
and Osama bin Laden at large) was about as surprising as the
Lakers defeat of the Nets in the NBA Finals. So Russia had
a tough time in the hills of Afghanistan some years ago. Big
deal - that was then, this is now.
But back to the question at hand: careless performance? Perhaps.
Apparent danger of death? You bet.
Over three thousand people died on September 11, 2001. If
there is any credible evidence that exists to suggest that
their lives were lost due to the negligence of an administration
that was asleep at the wheel, then it is the Commander-in-Chief
who should stand and be judged before Congress and, perhaps,
a special military tribunal.
Mike Seely is a Seattle writer whose work has appeared
in Seattle Weekly, The Stranger, Seattle Magazine, The Everett
Herald and Tablet Newspaper, among other publications.