About the Case

Summary of the Saleh v. Bush Lawsuit

On March 13, 2013, Sundus Shaker 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.

Ms. Saleh’s complaint seeks tort damages against the defendants based on the injuries she sustained during the war.  She is asking the Northern District of California for an order that (1) the crime of aggression, called the “supreme international crime,” by the Nuremberg Tribunal, continues to exist as a jus cogens norm of international law; and (2) that members of the Bush Administration committed the crime of aggression with respect to Iraq.

On August 20, 2013, the Department of Justice requested that the Court immunize the defendants from further civil proceedings pursuant to the Westfall Act. On June 9, 2014, the day she filed her Second Amended Complaint, Ms. Saleh requested an evidentiary hearing to challenge the Westfall Act request.

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 January 16, 2015, Ms. Saleh filed a notice of appeal with the United States Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit.

The basis of Ms. Saleh’s standing is the Alien Tort Statute, a law passed in 1789 by the first Congress. The law permits a non-US citizen to sue for tort damages based on violations of the “law of nations.” It is a recognized vehicle for addressing human rights cases in the United States, so long as the allegations touch or concern the United States. Ms. Saleh is the lead plaintiff in a putative class action on behalf of civilian victims of the war.

Key Pleadings

A copy of the Appellate Opening Brief before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (filed May 27, 2015)

A copy of the the Second Amended Complaint (filed June 9, 2014)

A copy of the Department of Justice Motion to Dismiss the Second Amended Complaint (filed June 23, 2014)

A copy of the request for immunity pursuant to the Westfall Act submitted by the Department of Justice on behalf of the Defendants (filed August 20, 2013)

A copy of Ms. Saleh’s response to the Motion to Dismiss the Second Amended Complaint (filed July 21, 2014)

A copy of Ms. Saleh’s request for an evidentiary hearing to contest the request for immunity (filed June 9, 2014)

Litigating the US Invasion of Iraq