MONTPELIER, Vt. - President Bush may soon have a new reason to avoid left-leaning Vermont: In one town, activists want him subject to arrest for war crimes.
A group in Brattleboro is petitioning to put an item on a town-meeting agenda in March that would make Bush and Vice President Cheney subject to arrest and indictment if they visit the southeastern Vermont community.
"This petition is as radical as the Declaration of Independence, and it draws on that tradition in claiming a universal jurisdiction when governments fail to do what they're supposed to do," said Kurt Daims, 54, a retired machinist leading the drive.
As president, Bush has visited every state but Vermont.
The town meeting, an annual exercise in which residents gather to vote on everything from fire department budgets to municipal policy, requires about 1,000 signatures to put a binding item on the agenda.
The measure asks: "Shall the Selectboard instruct the Town Attorney to draft indictments against President Bush and Vice President Cheney for crimes against our Constitution, and publish said indictment for consideration by other municipalities?"
The White House did not immediately respond to requests yesterday for comment.
Support for the idea is far from universal, even in Vermont, where the state Senate voted this year to support impeaching Bush. Antiwar rallies are regular occurrences here, and "Impeach Bush" bumper stickers are common.
"I would not be supportive of it," said Stephen Steidle, a member of the town's selectboard, which oversees its government. The selectboard, he said, "needs to focus on the town and the things that need to be done here."
Daims has been circulating documents that say the community acquires a "universal jurisdiction" to take such steps "when governments breach their highest duties."
Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell, a Democrat whose office has repeatedly sued the Bush administration over environmental issues, called the move "of very dubious legality."
"At first blush," he said, "if this passed, they'd have really uphill sledding trying to have it be legal and enforceable."