Saleh v. Bush

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Saleh v. Bush is a class action lawsuit filed in 2013 against high-ranking members of the George W. Bush administration (including George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condi Rice, Colin Powell, and Paul Wolfowitz) for their alleged involvement in premeditating and carrying out the Iraq War. In December 2014, the district court hearing the case ordered it dismissed with prejudice. The plaintiffs have appealed that decision to the United States Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit.

2013: Filing[edit]

The lawsuit alleged that the defendants conspired to wage a war of aggression against the Iraqi people, a violation of the Nuremberg Principles. (The lawsuit was brought to United States District Court in the Northern District of California by lawyer Inder Comar,[1] and the lead plaintiff is Sundus Shaker Saleh, an Iraqi expat.) Specifically, the allegations claim the primary purpose of the Iraq war was to enact regime change in Iraq, as distinct from national self defense. In pursuit of this goal, the defendants are alleged to have: planned the war as early as 1998; capitalized on the September 11 attacks in 2001 to ramp up support for the invasion; utilized fear tactics and intentional misinformation; entered Iraq without fully proper UN Security Council authorization.[a][b] (If successful, the lawsuit would be the first time since the Nuremberg Trials that any U.S. government officials were convicted of crimes against peace whilst waging a war of aggression.[α])

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) is arguing the case in favor of the defendants, who are former government officials. The DOJ filed a motion to dismiss the charges on August 20, 2013,[c] and a similar filing was made on November 29, 2013.[d]

2014: Dismissal[edit]

On May 19, 2014, the Northern District of California dismissed the case, but with 20 days leave to amend.[e] On June 8, 2014, the plaintiffs filed their second (amended) complaint.[f] The next day the plaintiffs filed a request for an evidentiary hearing, requesting that the court permit them the opportunity to provide the evidence the court had demanded.[g] On August 15, 2014 the DOJ was scheduled to have the ability to respond to the second amended complaint.[h] A hearing date had been set for September 11, 2014,[i] but on August 18, 2014, the Northern District Court reset the hearing date for November 13, 2014.[j] The hearing date was cancelled on November 3, 2014.[k]

On 19 December 2014, the lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice. The court made several rulings, on the motion of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to substitute itself for all of the defendants and thereby dismiss the action with prejudice, as well as on the plaintiff's motion for an evidentiary hearing. The DOJ cited the Westfall Act,[β] claiming that the defendants were acting within their scope of employment when planning and waging the Iraq War, and therefore cannot be held individually accountable for any harm allegedly caused. The Westfall Act rules that harm done within the scope of employment is the responsibility of the employer (in this case the United States federal government), which as a nation-state is protected against all criminal prosecution by sovereign immunity. The court ruled that the burden was on the plaintiff to have already provided evidence that the defendants were not acting within the scope of their employment, and in the absence of such evidence, dismissed the lawsuit.[l]

2015: Amicus brief[edit]

A notice of appeal with the United States Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit was filed on January 16, 2015.[m][page needed] On May 27, 2015, the plaintiffs made an appellate opening brief to the 9th Appeals Court.[n] A week later, on June 2, a group of international lawyers (including former Attorney General Ramsey Clark) filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs.[2][o]

2016: Appeal[edit]

On July 22, 2016, the plaintiffs filed a motion for judicial notice, submitting excerpts from the Chilcot Report in support of their claims.[3] The Ninth Circuit judges Susan Graber and Andrew Hurwitz, plus visiting judge Richard Boulware, heard thirty minutes of oral arguments on December 12, 2016.[p][q]

On February 10, 2017, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the judgment.[4][5]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Walzer, Michael (2007). "The Crime of Aggressive War" (PDF). Global Studies Law Review. Washington University Law. 6 (3). 
  2. ^ Balboa, Juan R. (1995). Legislative Reform: The Westfall Act and Scope of Employment: The Role of the Attorney General. Journal of Legislation. 
  3. ^ International Military Tribunal (August 8, 1945). "Charter of the International Military Tribunal". Nuremberg Trial Proceedings. Nuremberg, Germany: Avalon Project archive, Yale Law School. 1. Retrieved January 20, 2014. 
  4. ^ Broomhall, Bruce (2003). International Justice and the International Criminal Court (2 ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 46. ISBN 978-0-19-925600-6. 
  5. ^ Jackson, Robert (1946). Nuremberg Trials, Opening Address for the United States. Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression. 1. Washington: Office of the United States Chief Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality. 
  6. ^ Chomsky, Noam (1 July 2007). "The Poisoned Chalice". FAIR. Retrieved December 26, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Iraq/Middle East". Project for the New American Century. 1997–2000. Archived from the original on October 10, 2013. Retrieved December 30, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Letter to President Clinton". Project for the New American Century. 26 January 1998. Archived from the original on October 10, 2013. Retrieved December 30, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Letter to Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott". Project for the New American Century. 29 May 1998. Archived from the original on October 10, 2013. Retrieved December 30, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Wolfowitz Statement on U.S. Policy Toward Iraq". Project for the New American Century. 18 September 1998. Archived from the original on October 11, 2013. Retrieved December 30, 2013. 
  11. ^ Kampfner, Jonathan (2003). Blair's Wars. Simon and Schuster. 
  12. ^ Clarke, Richard A. (2004). Against All Enemies: Inside America's War On Terror. Free Press. 
  13. ^ "The President's Daily Brief". The National Security Archive. 6 August 2001. Retrieved December 30, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Downing Street Memo, text" (PDF). Retrieved December 31, 2013. 
  15. ^ Isikoff, Michael; Corn, David (September 2006). Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War. New York: Crown Publishers. p. 35. 
  16. ^ Bumiller, Elisabeth (September 7, 2002). "TRACES OF TERROR: THE STRATEGY; Bush Aides Set Strategy to Sell Policy on Iraq". New York Times. Retrieved January 1, 2014. 
  17. ^ Gellman, Barton; Pincus, Walter (August 10, 2003). "Depiction of Threat Outgrew Supporting Evidence". Washington Post. Retrieved January 1, 2014. 
  18. ^ Shear, Michael D. (May 28, 2008). "Ex-Press Aide Writes That Bush Misled U.S. on Iraq". Washington Post. Retrieved January 1, 2014. 
  19. ^ Waas, Murray (November 22, 2005). "Key Bush Intelligence Briefing Kept From Hill Panel". National Journal. Retrieved January 1, 2014. 
  20. ^ "President Bush Outlines Iraqi Threat" (Press release). Office of the Press Secretary, White House. October 7, 2002. Retrieved January 1, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Remarks by the President at Thaddeus McCotter for Congress Dinner" (Press release). Office of the Press Secretary, White House. October 14, 2002. Retrieved January 1, 2014. 
  22. ^ Jehl, Douglas (November 6, 2005). "Report Warned Bush Team About Intelligence Doubts". New York Times. Retrieved January 1, 2014. 
  23. ^ "The Vice President Appears on NBC's Meet the Press". Meet the Press. December 9, 2001. NBC. 
  24. ^ "Interview of the Vice President by Tony Snow". The Tony Snow Show. March 29, 2006. FOX News Radio. 
  25. ^ "Full text of Colin Powell's speech to the United Nations security council". Guardian. February 5, 2003. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  26. ^ "Colin Powell on Iraq, Race, and Hurricane Relief". ABC News. September 8, 2005. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 


(N.B., these convenience-links are online copies of governmental source-documents,
some of which are hosted at a website controlled by one side of the parties to the lawsuit.
As such, they should be used with care.)
  1. ^ Complaint for Conspiracy to Commit Aggression; and the Crime of Aggression, Saleh v. Bush, U.S.D.C., Northern District of California, March 13, 2013
  2. ^ "Lawsuit Against Bush Administration". Witness Iraq. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  3. ^ The United States' Motion to Dismiss, Saleh v. Bush, U.S.D.C., Filed August 20, 2013
  4. ^ The United States' Motion to Dismiss, Saleh v. Bush, U.S.D.C., Filed November 29, 2013
  5. ^ "Google Scholar". 2014-05-19. Retrieved 2017-01-15. 
  6. ^ "Second Amended Complaint". Witness Iraq. 2014-06-17. Retrieved 2017-01-15. 
  7. ^ "Motion for Evidentiary Hearing". Witness Iraq. 2014-06-17. Retrieved 2017-01-15. 
  8. ^ "The latest update on the lawsuit! (video)". Witness Iraq. 2014-07-24. Retrieved 2017-01-15. 
  9. ^ "Bush Administration Lawsuit Hearing Scheduled for Sept. 11th". Quiet Mike. 
  10. ^ "Stipulation and Order". Justia. Retrieved September 1, 2014. 
  11. ^ "SUNDUS SHAKER SALEH, Plaintiff, v. GEORGE W. BUSH, et al., Defendants. Case No. 13-cv-01124-JST ORDER VACATING MOTION HEARING Re: ECF Nos. 38, 43., United States District Court, Northern District of California. November 3, 2014. Judge Jon S. Tigar (signed). Via
  12. ^ "Order denying plaintiff's motion for an evidentiary hearing and granting defendants' motion to dismiss" (PDF). Witness Iraq. Witness Iraq. 19 December 2014. Retrieved 7 May 2015. 
  13. ^ "Litigating the US Invasion of Iraq". Witness Iraq. Retrieved 2017-01-15. 
  14. ^ "Saleh v Bush" (PDF).\accessdate=2017-01-15. 
  15. ^ Jamail, Dahr, "Former US Attorney General Files Brief in Lawsuit Challenging Legality of Iraq War", Truthout, 15 June 2015.
  16. ^ [1]
  17. ^ United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (2016-12-12), 15-15098 Sundus Saleh v. George Bush, retrieved 2016-12-14 
  18. ^ "Federal Court to Examine Legality of Iraq War Based on Lawsuit Filed by Comar Law" (Press release). PR Newswire. December 2, 2013. Archived from the original on 2014-01-08. Retrieved January 8, 2014.