The theory against the defendants in the Saleh v. Bush lawsuit — which include George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz — is that these individuals committed the “crime of aggression.”
What is the crime of aggression?
The crime of aggression was the chief crime prosecuted against Nazi war criminals at the Nuremberg Trials held at the end of World War II. While Nuremberg is remembered as the tribunal which prosecuted the Nazis for war crimes and crimes against humanity, the International Military Tribunal also held that the Nazis broke the law by planning and waging wars in violation of international treaty.
Under the rule of Nuremberg, waging a war of aggression is the “supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” (Emphasis added.)
In the Saleh v. Bush complaint, the plaintiff Sundus Shaker Saleh alleges that the defendants in this case planned and waged a war in violation of international law and thus committed the crime of aggression as defined by Nuremberg. Ms. Saleh alleges that the defendants began planning a war against Iraq as early as 1998 through the non-profit known as “The Project for the New American Century.” Ms. Saleh alleges that once in power, the defendants used 9/11 as an excuse to scare and mislead the American public into supporting a war against Iraq. Finally, the plaintiff alleges that the war was executed without proper legal authorization, constituting another act of aggression against the people of Iraq.
Ms. Saleh has filed suit against members of the Bush Administration under the Alien Tort Statute, which permits a non-US citizen to file suit for any tort “committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.” Thus, Ms. Saleh argues that she has the right to bring the Bush Administration to court as they violated the rule of Nuremberg, international law and international treaty in planning and waging the Iraq War.