Did you know six members of the Bush Administration may finally end up in court? While I’d really rather see Bush painting his self portraits in solitary confinement or Rumsfeld riding the bulls at Angola, that’s not going to happen. Our friends over at Quiet Mike have been following this story for a while and here’s the quick rundown for you:
Saleh is the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit targeting six key members of the Bush Administration: George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, and Paul Wolfowitz. In Saleh v. Bush, she alleges that the Iraq War was not conducted in self-defense, did not have the appropriate authorization by the United Nations, and therefore constituted a “crime of aggression” under international law—a designation first set down in the Nuremberg Trials after World War II. The aim of the suit is simple: to achieve justice for Iraqis, and to show that no one, not even the president of the United States, is above the law. (Source)
When I first posted the story on a few pages I help run, including Politically Preposterous and Whiskey and the Morning After, one common response was something like, “Finally! I hope they rot in jail!” While it’s probably what they deserve, especially Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, jail isn’t what they’re looking at.
Let’s be clear, this is a civil suit, not a criminal case. That is a very important legal difference that many people seem to be overlooking. Unfortunately, neither Bush, nor Cheney, nor Rumsfeld or any of the other people in the Bush Administration responsible for the Iraq War will likely ever see the inside of a jail cell. As much as many of us would like to see that happen, it’s just not going to happen.
There are few, if any, prosecutors anywhere in the United States who have the ability to bring charges against the planners of the Iraq fiasco. If perhaps the Justice Department was prosecuting them, then a criminal case could be successful. However, the Justice Department is actually defending these officials against a civil suit here, believe it or not. There are also additional legal hoops that the plaintiffs will have to jump through in order to keep the case from being thrown out.
Earlier this year, the Department of Justice, who is defending the six Bush Administration officials, responded to the lawsuit by requesting that the case be dismissed. The Bush tribe is claiming that the planning of the war occurred within the scope of their employment and therefore they have immunity.
Rather than dismissing the case, the Judge asked for additional information. So Mr. Comar filed a 2nd amended complaint back in June. The amended complaint provides more details about the planning of the Iraq war and when it started.
Comar’s evidence, shows the Bush/Cheney team started planning the invasion of Iraq as far back as 1997. The amended complaint also explains that the war was motivated by personal enrichment and the war was a “crime of aggression.” (Source)
If the complaint that the war was planned as far back as 1997 is found to be true in a civil trial, this would be at least a partial vindication for a lot of people who have believed for a long time that George W. Bush or Dick Cheney had this in mind for years prior to the 2003 invasion. The plaintiffs argue that is indeed what happened, and the other defendants from the Bush Administration are also liable as George W. Bush could not have carried out this war on his own. In the complaint, it is shown that Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld had pushed for the war repeatedly, and it is alleged that the 9/11 attacks were used to finally justify military action.
Nothing will bring back the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians who died, the 4486 U.S. personnel killed or the tens of thousands more who are scarred physically and mentally from a war we were sold on a lie. It won’t bring back the veterans like my friend Dan who didn’t get the PTSD help that they needed and committed suicide. However, holding the Bush Administration responsible for their actions, even through a civil suit, will still be better than nothing at all.
You can read the Saleh v. Bush complaint in its entirety here.
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