The matter of the legality of the iraq war: Saleh v. bush

Just Atonement is perhaps the only legal non profit in the world today dedicating time and effort to holding those leaders accountable who planned and executed the Iraq War.

Engagement

In March 2013, Just Atonement was engaged by Iraqi refugee Sundus Saleh, who filed a lawsuit against Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell and Wolfowitz in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

She alleged that these defendants planned and waged an illegal aggressive war against Iraq, and in so doing, caused her to suffer tort damages. 

Saleh relied heavily on the precedent set by the Nuremberg Tribunal in 1946, which held that the crime of aggression is the "supreme international crime," and that a leader may not rely on a domestic immunity against such charges. Saleh argued that the Iraq War was illegal under international law as an act of aggression against Iraq.

In addition to Just Atonement, amicus briefs in support of Ms. Saleh's have been filed by former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark and by the Planethood Foundation, a non profit founded by the last living Nuremberg war crimes prosecutor, Benjamin Ferencz

 

Timeline

  • On March 13, 2013, Sundus Saleh filed a lawsuit against George W. Bush and other members of the Bush Administration alleging that they committed the Nuremberg-era “crime of aggression” in planning and waging the Iraq War in 2003.

  • On December 19, 2014, the District Court dismissed Ms. Saleh’s lawsuit on the basis that the defendants held a domestic immunity from a civil lawsuit based on the federal Westfall Act.

  • On May 27, 2015, Ms. Saleh filed an appeal with the United States Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit.

  • On June 2, 2015, amicus briefs in support of Ms. Saleh's case were filed with the Ninth Circuit, including a brief filed by former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, and a brief filed by the Planethood Foundation, a non profit founded by the last living Nuremberg war crimes prosecutor, Benjamin Ferencz.

  • The Ninth Circuit held oral argument on December 12, 2016 and listened to argument that President Bush and the other defendants should be held liable for initiating a war of aggression against Iraq.

  • On February 10, 2017, the Ninth Circuit ruled that President Bush and other high-ranking officials were immune from proceedings under US domestic law, regardless of whether international law did not provide for such an immunity.

 

Impact

Just Atonement used a crowdfunding platform to raise money for this case, and in so doing, became one of the first times in history in which an attorney used internet crowdfunding platforms to fund a human rights case. The case has generated significant interest in the Nuremberg era “crime of aggression.” 

Just Atonement continues to research ways to end impunity over the crime of aggression.

 

MEDIA

'These are dangerous times': the man who sued George W Bush and the Iraq war

The Guardian - March 11, 2017

"I’m really glad the court is challenging Trump in the immigration context. But, for whatever reason, when it comes to war and peace, in the US it’s just boxed away in another part of our brain. We just don’t question it. We need to have a conversation about why we’re always at war. And why we’re always doing it unilaterally."

Remembering the Costs of the Iraq War in the Age of Trump

The Nation - January 5, 2017

"Inder Comar, the plaintiffs’ attorney in Saleh v. Bush, a class-action lawsuit against Bush and other top administration officials, testified about the illegality of the Iraq War, how it constituted a war of aggression."

 

Ninth Circuit oral argument