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Federal Court to Examine Illegality of War on Iraq
A federal court will hear argument next April from an Iraqi woman who claims the Iraq War was illegal under international law.
Plaintiff Sundus Shaker Saleh, an Iraqi single mother and refugee now living in Jordan, filed a complaint in March 2013 in San Francisco federal court alleging that the planning and waging of the Iraq War was a "crime of aggression" against Iraqi civilians, a legal theory used at the Nuremberg Trials to convict Nazi leaders for planning and waging wars in Europe during World War II.
Saleh served the complaint in June 2013 against six Bush-era officials, including George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz. Her complaint seeks damages for herself as well as for other Iraqi civilian victims of the war.
Saleh alleges that Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz openly planned the Iraq War beginning in 1998 through a neoconservative think-tank called "The Project for the New American Century." She further alleges that once in power, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz convinced other Bush officials to invade Iraq and to use 9/11 as an excuse to scare and mislead the American public into supporting a war.
President Obama's Department of Justice (DOJ) is representing the defendants and has filed court papers seeking to immunize them from civil proceedings, arguing that these former officials were acting within the scope of their employment in planning and waging the Iraq War. The Obama DOJ has also argued that Saleh's lawsuit is a political question and should be dismissed.
"This is the first time that a court will examine arguments that the Iraq War was illegal under international law," chief counsel Inder Comar of Comar Law said. "We will ask the court to recognize the Nuremberg judgment as binding precedent against these six defendants, and to reject the Obama DOJ argument that Bush-era officials were acting within the scope of their employment when they publicly planned the Iraq War prior to entering office."
In 1946, the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg ruled that planning and waging a war of aggression is the "supreme international crime" and convicted Nazi leaders of engaging in premeditated wars that violated international law. Several Nazi leaders were sentenced to death for committing the crime of aggression and other war crimes.
The case is Saleh v. Bush (N.D. Cal. Mar. 13, 2013, No. C 13 1124 JST). Oral argument is set for hearing on April 3, 2014, 2:00 p.m., in the Northern District of California, San Francisco division. Updates, including court documents, can be found at http://witnessiraq.com.
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