Single Mom Versus George W. Bush

George W. Bush

Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger

With all of the discussion we have had on his blog about the abandonment of the rule of law in this country, I was very interested when I read about a class action lawsuit that was filed in March of this year.  The case is Saleh v. Bush, and it was filed in an attempt to hold former President George W. Bush and five members of his administration responsible and liable for the damages incurred when Iraq was attacked by the United States and some of its allies in 2003.

“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.” Yes Magazine  

The case was filed in March of 2013 in the United States District Court in Northern California by attorney Inder Comar, and the plaintiffs are attempting to use the Alien Tort Statute to make their claim.  “To seek legal redress, Comar Law is invoking the Alien Tort Statute, a law passed in 1789 that permits a non-U.S. national the ability to sue in federal court for injuries “committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.” Yes Magazine

A copy of the complaint that was filed can be found here.  It will be an uphill battle for these plaintiffs to be successful, but it is interesting that it takes a group of Iraqi’s to try to enforce American law.  Prior attempts to hold the Bush Administration and its members personally liable for their actions in approving torture subsequent to attacking Iraq have not been successful.  One such case was Ali v. Rumsfield.  The Ali case was dismissed and the dismissal was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in June of 2011.

While some of the experts quoted in the Yes Magazine article linked to several times above are doubtful that the Saleh case can be successful in overcoming the likely defense claim that the Defendants cannot be sued for actions taken during the course of their duties in the administration; the Plaintiffs attorney is trying to hang his hat on the theory that the conspiracy to attack Iraq was actually started prior to when at least some of the Defendants were members of the Bush Administration.

The Plaintiffs point to the documents developed and executed by several Defendants who were members of the Project for a New American Century, or PNAC, as evidence that the conspiracy predated their employment.  “Those documents suggest that, in order to show that these officials were acting in capacity as government employees, the United States needs to prove that the sum of their actions took place entirely within office. Since the officials participated in these actions before they took office, Comar claims, they clearly cannot have been acting in their scope of employment.” Yes Magazine

As suggested earlier, the Plaintiffs have an uphill battle in their attempt to hold these government officials responsible for what they claim was an illegal and aggressive war against Iraq.  The Westfall Act which was signed into law in 1988, insulates individual government employees acting in their official capacities from liability for the actions that they take during the course of their employment.

The Plaintiffs and their attorney are aware that their chances of getting a full trial, let alone a money judgment is slim.  However, they seem to think that holding our elected officials and their appointed assistants to the same rule of law that ordinary citizens or soldiers are held to is a fight worth having.  I agree that this is a fight worth having.

Do you think that the Plaintiffs will be able to get to a full trial on the merits or will they be dismissed prior to actually going to trial?  Were President Bush and Vice President Cheney and the rest of the Defendants acting within the true scope of their employment duties?

Can the rule of law actually apply to Presidents and Vice Presidents and their subordinates anymore?  I think the Plaintiff’s attorney was correct when he suggested that even Presidents can be held to the rule of law.  I just don’t know how they are going to meet that goal.   How can a former or sitting President be held liable for what many consider illegal acts?

As the Chief Prosecuting Attorney at the Nuremburg Trials, Robert H. Jackson, as quoted in the Saleh complaint put it, ‘ ““We must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants today is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well.” ‘

If only our past and current political officials understood this concept, we might actually see a return of the full rule of law to this country.  I guess another way of explaining Nuremburg prosecutor Jackson’s words is “The Whole World is Watching”.   Do you think our politicians would agree with Mr. Jackson?

29 thoughts on “Single Mom Versus George W. Bush”

  1. There is a book available in a library near you called Tyranny On Trial, by Whitney Harris. Whitney was a prosecutor for the U.S. at Nuremburg. This has good information. This lady here has good grounds for litigation, although I am not sure of the forum which she chose.

  2. Some have been saying from the beginning that the U.S. led invasion of Iraq was unnecessary, unjustified and illegal under international law. George W. Bush repeateldy said that there would be plenty of time ‘ later on’ to discuss (the necessity & justification for) the Iraq invasion. ‘ Later on ‘ has not come, nor will it ever. Some believe that George W. Bush was a man so possessed with invading Iraq & killing Saddam Hussein that he ignored the known threat from Osama bin Laden and actually allowed, perhaps unintentionally, the 9-11-01 attack. Bush’s secret is out & only the proof remains hidden from the American people.

  3. “If only our past and current political officials understood this concept, we might actually see a return of the full rule of law to this country. I guess another way of explaining Nuremburg prosecutor Jackson’s words is “The Whole World is Watching”. Do you think our politicians would agree with Mr. Jackson?

    Like Gene H said some might and some might not.

    But it would not matter, and if it did matter it would not matter long:

    This is a masterful account of how people in the United States and around the world worked to abolish war as a legitimate act of state policy and won in 1928, outlawing war with a treaty that is still on the books.

    (War Outlawed). If guns war is outlawed, only outlaws will have guns wars.

  4. @ Paul. It’s getting to the point where the only event that will trigger mass protest is the taking away of food stamps. Sorry to say that too many “americans” have been bought.

  5. Lie by Lie: A Timeline of How We Got Into Iraq
    Mushroom clouds, duct tape, Judy Miller, Curveball. Recalling how Americans were sold a bogus case for invasion.
    —By Jonathan Stein and Tim Dickinson
    September/October 2006 Issue

    At A congressional hearing examining the march to war in Iraq, Republican congressman Walter Jones posed “a very simple question” about the administration’s manipulation of intelligence: “How could the professionals see what was happening and nobody speak out?”

    Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, responded with an equally simple answer: “The vice president.”

    But the blame for Iraq does not end with Cheney, Bush, or Rumsfeld. Nor is it limited to the intelligence operatives who sat silent as the administration cherry-picked its case for war, or with those, like Colin Powell or Hans Blix, who, in the name of loyalty or statesmanship, did not give full throat to their misgivings. It is also shared by far too many in the Fourth Estate, most notably the New York Times’ Judith Miller. But let us not forget that it lies, inescapably, with we the American people, who, in our fear and rage over the catastrophic events of September 11, 2001, allowed ourselves to be suckered into the most audacious bait and switch of all time.

    The first drafts of history are, by their nature, fragmentary. They arrive tragically late, and too often out of order. Back in 2006, we attempted to strip the history of the runup to the war to its bones, to reconstruct a skeleton that we thought might be key in resolving the open questions of the Bush era. As we prepare to leave Iraq, we present that timeline to you again. offers a greatly expanded (if now technologically outdated) version of this timeline, one that is completely sourced to primary documents and initial news accounts. It was our hope to make this second draft of history as definitive as possible. So that we won’t be fooled again.—THE EDITORS

  6. I’d say the odds of the suite going through to trial are pretty close to zero.

    However, the anger at how our elected officials flout the law is slowly growing. One can never predict when that growing anger will spill over into mass protest or worse. Look at the trigger for mass protest in Brazil, raising the the bus fair a tiny amount. Look what just happened in Turkey with protest after they tried to bulldoze some trees?

    So while it may seem discouraging today that our president says he can kill people at will whom he thinks are dangerous, while our Senate and President says spying on americans is not spying on amerians, the day will come when some small event will trigger mass protest.

    Keep up the great reporting.

  7. theres a speech by george bush just before they invaded iraq a couple of paragraphs about saddam 3 about oil ,that incriminates him alone if i find it i wil post it here.

  8. Gene: “The signatory list for PNAC reads like the Martha’s Vineyard Sociopath and Child Cooking Society membership roster.”

    And that covers that pretty well also. 🙂

  9. Its a good one if it can get there. Thousands of us knew there was zero justification for the Iraqui war. There is a chance this could go through as the Illuminati ‘cleaning house’ continues.
    It would help if you could elaborate on your background, Squeaky Fromm. One has visions of Charles Manson murders… But I’m assuming that is not where you’re coming from.

  10. Hmmm. Then, there is this:

    The Iraq Resolution or the Iraq War Resolution (formally the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002, Pub.L. 107–243, 116 Stat. 1498, enacted October 16, 2002, H.J.Res. 114) is a joint resolution passed by the United States Congress in October 2002 as Public Law No: 107-243, authorizing military action against Iraq.

    My guess is the Court will take the easy out and find the issue not justiciable, which Wiki says is:

    The suit must not be seeking judgment upon a political question.[6]

    Political questions involve matters where there is:
    “a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of the issue to a coordinate political department” (meaning that the U.S. Constitution requires another branch of government to resolve questions regarding the issue);
    “a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving it”;
    an “impossibility of deciding [a matter] without an initial policy determination of a kind clearly for nonjudicial discretion”;
    an “impossibility of a court’s undertaking independent resolution without expressing lack of the respect due coordinate branches of government”;
    “an unusual need for unquestioning adherence to a political decision already made”; or
    a “potentiality of embarrassment from multifarious pronouncements by various departments on one question.”.[7]
    Political questions include such issues as whether the nation is ‘at war’ with another country, or whether the U.S. Senate has properly “tried” an impeached federal officer.

    Here you have two branches of government that did it. My GUESS is the court will punt. You kinda need to win a war to do stuff like this.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  11. Blouise beautifully put and I concur. Sometimes you’ve just gotta make the effort.

  12. Your questions raise a vision of the perfection of Nirvana. I don’t believe it is obtainable but I believe in the striving.

  13. And the beast named PNAC rears it’s ugly head again.
    Good stuff, Larry.
    Do I think our politicians would agree with Mr. Jackson?
    Some of them. Maybe. But far too few to have critical mass at this time. The PNAC crew? Of course not. The signatory list for PNAC reads like the Martha’s Vineyard Sociopath and Child Cooking Society membership roster.

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