For centuries, the US has committed war crimes around the world and rarely suffered negative consequences as a result. Some of the US most notable war criminals, such as Henry Kissinger and Barack Obama, have received numerous accolades, including the Nobel Peace Prize, despite their dark legacies. However, things may soon change as former President George W. Bush may be forced to stand trial over the war crimes his administration committed in Iraq. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in California recently confirmed that Judges Susan Graber and Andrew Hurwitz will hear oral arguments in the case of Saleh v. Bush, beginning tomorrow December 12th. Other members of Bush’s administration, such as Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz, are also named as defendants in the case.
The case was brought against Bush by Sundus Shaker Saleh, an Iraqi woman who charges Bush and high-ranking officials in his administration with breaking international and US law by planning and executing the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq. Saleh maintains that Bush and his colleagues are guilty of the “crime of aggression,” which was defined as the “supreme international crime” at the 1946 Nuremberg Trials.
In the case, Saleh is appealing the immunity provided to Bush and the other defendants by California’s Ninth Circuit court in 2014, after they were urged to do so by President Obama and the Department of Justice. Saleh previously tried to take Bush to court in 2013 until the Department of Justice intervened. The California Court dismissed her case in December 2014, citing the Westfall Act of 1988, which immunizes former federal officials in civil lawsuits if a court determines that the official was acting within the legitimate scope of his or her position. However, this time around, Saleh argues that the invasion of Iraq fell outside the legitimate scope of employment of former President Bush and his administration. Plenty of evidence since the invasion took place has shown that the administration knowingly lied to justify and execute the war by falsely claiming Iraq under Saddam Hussein possessed “weapons of mass destruction.” The real reason, however, was that Hussein had stopped selling Iraqi oil in dollars by switching to euros, threatening US hegemony in the region.
“We are pleased that the Ninth Circuit will hear argument. To my knowledge, this is the first time a court will entertain arguments that the Iraq War was illegal under domestic and international law,” Saleh’s attorney D. Inder Comar said. “This is also the first time since World War II that a court is being asked to scrutinize whether the war itself was an illegal act of aggression — a special war crime that was defined at the Nuremberg Trials in 1946.”
The oral arguments, set to begin tomorrow, will be live streamed and recorded on the Ninth Circuit’s YouTube channel – that is, unless last minute intervention prevents the oral arguments from taking place. The Court will begin hearing arguments at 9 AM PST, though the Saleh v. Bush case is last on the docket and will likely take place later in the morning. If the case advances, it could create a legal precedent that would allow other US and foreign presidents and officials to be charged for their crimes, such as former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair who also had a hand in the war crimes committed in Iraq. Though justice demands that George W. Bush be brought to trial for war crimes, one cannot help, but hold lingering doubts that he will ever see the inside of a court room as, time and again, the “Deep State” almost always intervenes to protect its own.
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