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Palpable Anger
Vincent Bugliosi
Published: Tuesday May 27, 2008

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My anger over the war in Iraq, some will say, is palpable. If I sound too angry for some, what should I be greatly angry about -- that a referee gave what I thought was a bad call to my hometown football, basketball, or baseball team, and it may have cost them the game? I don't think so.

Virtually all of us cling desperately to life, either because of our love of life and/ or our fear of death. I'm told there is a passage in a novel by Dostoyevsky in which a character in the story exclaims, "If I were condemned to live on a rock, chained to a rock in the lashing sea, and all around me were ice and gales and storm, I would still want to live. Oh God, just to live, live, live!"

So nothing is as important in life as life and death. We fear and loathe the thought of our own death, even if it's a peaceful one after we've outlived the normal longevity. We fear not only the loss of our own lives, but the lives of our parents and sisters and brothers, as well as our relatives and close friends. We don't think of our children too much in this regard because our children, in the normal scheme of things, are supposed to outlive us. When they die before us, the already hideous nature of death becomes unbearable. And that's when they die a normal and peaceful death from illness. If the death is from an accident, like a car collision, the death of the child, if possible, is even more unbearable.

So one can hardly imagine the gut-tearing pain and horror when the only child of a couple, a nineteen-year-old son, call him Tim, the center of his parents' lives, whom they showered with their love and lived through vicariously in his triumphs on the athletic field and in the classroom, and who was excited as he looked forward to life, planning to wed his high school sweetheart and go on to become a police officer (or lawyer, doctor, engineer, etc.) dies the most horrible of deaths from a roadside bomb in a far-off country, and comes home in a metal box, * his body so shattered that his parents are cautioned by the military not to open it because what is inside ("our Timmy") is "unviewable." (To make the point hit home more with you, can you imagine if it was your son who was killed in Iraq and came home "unviewable" in a box? Yes, your son Scott, or Paul, or Michael, or Ronnie, Todd, Peter, Marty, Sean, or Bobby.)

No words can capture the feelings, the enormous suffering, of Tim's parents. But I think we can say that among a host of other deep agonies, they will have nightmares for the rest of their lives over the horrifying image of their boy the moment he lost his life on a desolate road in Iraq. As a mother of a soldier who died in Iraq wrote in a May 17, 2004, letter to the New York Times: "The explosion that killed my son in Baghdad will go on in our lives forever." She went on to say that "seared on" her soul are the "screams and despair" of her family over the loss of her son and the "sound of taps above the weeping crowd at the grave site of my son."

Just as Tim's young life ended before he really had a chance to live, so did the lives of thousands of other young men in the Iraq war. Not one of them wanted to die. As one wrote in his diary before he was killed in the battle of Fallouja: "I am not so much scared as I am very afraid of the unknown. If I don't get to write again, I would say I died too early. I haven't done enough in my life. I haven't gotten to experience enough. Though I hope I haven't gone in vain." In letter after letter home by young men who were later killed in combat in Iraq were words to the effect, "I can't wait to get back home and to start my life again."

All of the young men who died horrible and violent deaths in Bush's war had dreams. Bush saw to it that none of them would ever come true. It is impossible to adequately describe all the emotions and the magnitude of the human suffering that this dreadful war has wrought.

  • It is not a casket or coffin, which the survivors of course later put the remains in. The military refers to the aluminum receptacle as a "transfer case," and the case is draped with an American flag.

The above is an excerpt from the book The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder by Vincent Bugliosi Published by Vanguard Press; May 2008; $26.95US/$28.95CAN; 978-159315-481-3 Copyright 2008 Vincent Bugliosi

Vincent Bugliosi received his law degree in 1964. In his career at the L.A. County District Attorney's office, he successfully prosecuted 105 out of 106 felony jury trials, including 21 murder convictions without a single loss. His most famous trial, the Charles Manson case, became the basis of his classic, Helter Skelter, the biggest selling true-crime book in publishing history. His forthcoming book, The Prosecution of George W. Bush For Murder, is available May 27.

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