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Film / Death of a President

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Death of a President is a 2006 British Mockumentary about the fictional assassination of President George W. Bush, and the subsequent investigation into the crime. The film follows a number of Talking Heads as they discuss the events and their consequences, including the President's staff, journalists, lawyers, law enforcement, forensic professionals, and suspects.

Controversial upon release, the film did not make a profit and has largely faded into obscurity.

This film provides examples of:

  • Assassination Attempt: Posits the fall-out of the hypothetical assassination of George W. Bush by a disgruntled Syrian-American man. President Cheney authorizes PATRIOT Act II, authorizing even more extensive invasions of privacy and sending the U.S. on the way to becoming a Police State. However, the end of the film reveals that the real assassin was the father of a U.S. soldier who was killed in Iraq.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Even though Bush's assassination is a Foregone Conclusion given the film's title and premise, not only are the police and FBI unable to find the real culprit, but a likely innocent man remains in prison and former Vice President (now President) Dick Cheney has used the assassination to extend the government's surveillance powers. Furthermore, the identity of who leaked the classified documents that helped the real assassin carry out their plan remains unknown.
  • Celebrity Casualty: The film portrays the assassination of then-President George W. Bush.
  • The CSI Effect: Discussed In-Universe by Dr. Pearn regarding the difficulty in obtaining fingerprint evidence, as well as how juries view forensic evidence.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Casey Claybon, an Iraq war veteran suffering from PTSD after his time in the Army and the Iraq War, during which his brother (and fellow soldier) David was killed. He is arrested in the hours immediately following the assassination, but is soon let go.
  • Middle Eastern Terrorists: A major plotline involves the arrest and prosecution of Jamal Abu Zikri, a Syrian national who is the FBI's primary suspect with suspected links to Al-Qaeda. His prosecution continues throughout the film right up to his conviction and sentencing to death. Even when it's suggested that Zikri is actually innocent, the government still delays his appeal as the film ends, largely, it's implied, for political reasons.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: Jamal Abu Zikri's trial. The prosecution witnesses even admitted that the forensic evidence connecting Zikri to the assassination was rather weak, and Zikri's lawyer, Dawn Norton, noted that the prosecution's argument rested mainly on heavily playing up Zikri's alleged connections to Al-Qaeda to provide a terrorist motive.
  • The Reveal: The film has two major reveals right near the end:
    • The first is that Zikri is implied to be innocent and that the real assassin is actually Casey Claybon's father, Al, who killed Bush because he blamed him for the death of his son (and Casey's brother) David in the 2003 Iraq War.
    • The second is that Casey finds classified government documents in Al's home of Bush's exact location and planned movements on the day of the assassination. The film ends with the ongoing investigation into who leaked those documents.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: FBI forensic examiner Dr. James Pearn resigns in protest after being pressured by the government to help make the case against Zikri.
  • Sinister Surveillance: An extension to the USA PATRIOT Act (dubbed PATRIOT II) is passed by emergency session in the days following the assassination, and becomes permanent law at the film's end.
  • 25th Amendment: Cheney becomes President after Bush's assassination.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The film was released in 2006, but is set in 2007.
  • Wham Line:
    • When Bush's death is announced on the news.
    • When the assassin's likely true identity is revealed.
    Robert H. Magure: "At the time, politically, it was very difficult for anyone in the Agency or the administration to accept that Zikri had acted alone. That any one man could have planned and carried out this assassination, but, that was when we still believed that Zikri was the assassin."