Yes, Liberals: The Obama DOJ Requested Immunity For Bush Administration Officials

Even though some liberals are in denial, the Obama Administration has put up the final wall around the Bush Presidency’s war crimes, essentially granting immunity to George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell, and Paul Wolfowitz from being sued for crimes related to the Iraq War.

Per Inder Comer:

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 war constituted a “crime of aggression” against Iraq, a legal theory that was used by the Nuremberg Tribunal to convict Nazi war criminals after World War II.

In her lawsuit, Saleh alleges that:

— Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz began planning the Iraq War in 1998 through their involvement with the “Project for the New American Century,” a Washington DC non-profit that advocated for the military overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

— Once they came to power, Saleh alleges that Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz convinced other Bush officials to invade Iraq by using 9/11 as an excuse to mislead and scare the American public into supporting a war.

— Finally, she claims that the United States failed to obtain United Nations approval prior to the invasion, rendering the invasion illegal and an act of impermissible aggression.

And in court papers dated on August 14th, the Department of Justice demanded that the defendants be granted procedural immunity because they were “each acting within the scope of their federal office or employment at the time of the incidents out of which Complaints I and II in this matter arose.”

This strategy, known as the “Westfall Act certification,” is used by liberals to claim that this was not the Obama Administration’s fault, since it did not pass and sign into law the Westfall Act of 1988. They claim that they were helpless to the power of the law. This, however is not true. The Attorney General did not have to substitute the United States as the defendant of the case. The law provides for “the substitution of the United States as a defendant in any action where one of its employees is sued for damages committed by the employee within the scope of his or her employment.” The Attorney General therefore is given the power to determine whether a federal employee was working within the scope of his employment at the time of the alleged incidences. And on its face, it hardly makes sense that Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz were working within their federal job description in 1998 at a non-profit organization, before they were even in office, but I digress.

Is this new? No. The Obama Administration has a track record for protecting the Bush Administration from their crimes, in spite of them being guilty of just about every single one of the aforementioned accusations.

Don’t believe me? This is from an article by the New York Times before President Obama was even inaugurated:

President-elect Barack Obama signaled in an interview broadcast Sunday that he was unlikely to authorize a broad inquiry into Bush administration programs like domestic eavesdropping or the treatment of terrorism suspects.

But Mr. Obama also said prosecutions would proceed if the Justice Department found evidence that laws had been broken.

I know what some of you are thinking. “Aha! Stupid Obama hater forgot to edit out that last sentence.” I got you covered. The following is from a report by the Guardian dated last year:

The US justice department has announced it has ended its investigation into CIA interrogations of terrorist detainees without bringing criminal charges.

The 2009 expansion followed the public release of an internal CIA inspector general’s report that revealed agency interrogators once threatened to kill a 9/11 suspect’s children, and suggested another would be forced to watch his mother be sexually assaulted. The report said some CIA interrogators went beyond Bush administration restrictions that gave them wide latitude to use severe tactics such as waterboarding, a simulated drowning technique.

About the just-completed investigation of the two detainees’ deaths, Holder said that “based on the fully developed factual record concerning the two deaths, the department has declined prosecution because the admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Laws have been broken, but no prosecution whatsoever. And not because of the phony explanation that the evidence would not get a conviction. Let me allow President Obama to explain this instead:

“[N]othing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past … we must resist the forces that divide us, and instead come together on behalf of our common future.”

As poetic as that sounds (and by God does it bring a tear to the most stubborn eyes), it does not sound at all like the “nobody is above the law” mentality that he had when he was still Candidate Obama. We–and by we, I mean the general population of Liberal Americans–have been led to believe that President Obama stood against everything the Bush Administration defended, including torture. Yes, you read it right. I included torture. Because by the standards of human rights groups and the UN, the forced feedings at Gitmo are considered torture, and nothing is being done about it.

And again, this is nothing new. The immunity granted to top officials of Bush’s presidency–based on a very weak legal excuse that technically did not need to happen–is just another favor by President Obama. At the end of the day, after the cameras turn off and the president finishes his half-hour lectures about change and reform, he is just another Washington politician. This move by the DOJ makes that very clear.

Now, let me make this clear. Prosecuting the Bush Administration would be setting a revolutionary precedent, since succeeding presidents rarely hold their predecessors accountable, the most notable example being Gerald Ford’s pardoning of Richard Nixon. However, such a precedent needs to set to demonstrate that there is common law in this country.

About Cristóbal Reyes

Cristóbal Reyes is a first-generation Chilean-American, a progressive political activist, and an aspiring political journalist. He studies Journalism and Political Science at the University of Central Florida and enjoys debating public policy and social issues.


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