Ninth Circuit denies entry of Chilcot Report in Saleh v. Bush

The Ninth Circuit has refused to review excerpts of the British Chilcot Report in a civil claim filed by an Iraqi woman alleging that high-ranking Bush Administration officials violated law when they invaded Iraq.


Sundus Saleh, an Iraqi woman, claims that former President George W. Bush and other government officials committed the crime of aggression when they launched the Iraq War, an international war crime that was banned at the Nuremberg Trials.

In July of 2016, Ms. Saleh through counsel submitted excerpts from the Chilcot Report to the Ninth Circuit in support of her claim. In addition to the conclusions of the Report, which confirmed that former President Bush was set on regime change in Iraq as early as December 2001, she submitted memos between Bush and former U.K. prime minister Anthony Blair in which they appeared to plan for the invasion soon after the 9/11 attacks. She also submitted the conclusions of U.K. legal experts who issued legal opinions that the Iraq War was illegal and was an act of aggression.

The Ninth Circuit gave no reason for the denial, simply stating in a one sentence order that Saleh’s motion to submit the excerpts was denied.

Because it has denied review of the Chilcot Report, the judges examining the case will not consider the conclusions made by the British government in determining whether former Bush Administration officials should be civilly liable for the planning and execution of the Iraq War, even if such conduct violated laws.

Saleh filed her lawsuit in March 2013 in San Francisco federal court. The court ruled in December 2014 that the defendants in the lawsuit — George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice,  Colin Powell and Paul Wolfowitz — were immune from civil proceedings based on the Westfall Act, a federal law which immunizes government officials from lawsuits for conduct taken within the lawful scope of their authority. Saleh appealed the decision in June 2015.

The Ninth Circuit has not indicated when it will issue an order with respect to Saleh’s appeal.

Order denying entry of the Chilcot Report as evidence on appeal.

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