An Interview with Inder Comar Esq., the Lawyer bringing the Bush Administration to court on behalf of Iraqi refugee plaintiff Sundus Shaker Saleh
Last June, I wrote an article about a Bush Administration Lawsuit filed by Inder Comar, Esquire, for conspiracy to invade Iraq.
Originally, there were two cases filed in March, 2013, but Comar dismissed the one where he was the Plaintiff on behalf of himself and the American people, he dismissed it without prejudice meaning he can bring back the case anytime he wants to. He decided instead to focus on Ms. Saleh’s case and help her as an Iraqi refugee living in Jordan. It was a practical decision using Comar’s resources wisely, looking at the road ahead and focusing on the claims of his Plaintiff, Ms. Saleh. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-NMIWxgKIA
Here is a paraphrased version of my interview with Inder Comar, Esq.:
What made you take this course of action and legal strategy?
Comar met Ms. Saleh through the WitnessIraq website set up in December, 2012 to gather witness declarations of harm about what actually happened during the Iraq War. Looking at the Nuremberg Trials, and the large fact finding mission that occurred, we know a lot about World War II that would have been otherwise lost.
We can say with certainty that facts were written down, declarations were written, depositions were taken, and those facts were ruled upon by a Court. Nuremberg was the first big international effort to find out what happened in respect to war crimes that primarily involved a sovereign country.
We have had tribunals in other places like Rwanda or Yugoslavia, but in terms of wars the United States has been involved in like Vietnam or the first Gulf War, it is important to do fact finding primarily with people “on the ground.” So being interested in what he could find or what people were willing to say, Comar began the same process. Concentrating in Iraq, in 2004, finding out about the torture going on at Abu Ghairab and the loss of culture that was taking place with respect to the destruction of historical sites.
Through this process, and advising the Plaintiff of her rights, Ms. Saleh had the courage to go through with this lawsuit. Mr. Comar went to visit her in Jordan, where she is currently a refugee, and interviewed her personally to show that she is real and does exist.
War has become very antiseptic and a lot of that is because we see things go “boom” in the movies. We don’t realize the consequences of it, but war has become so sanitized that people have lost and forgotten a lot of the things that we know about war. It is destructive on a fundamental human level and the impacts families in ways that we can not envision in the United States or Canada because we are so disconnected from it and the military. Being a standing army, the harm that comes to the soldiers too are swept under the rug. It would be nice if more victims would come forward to write declarations so that we all learn what really happened in the Iraq War.
Have the Six Bush Administration Officials Being Charged Started Taking This Case Seriously?
There are Declarations stating the six Bush Administration officials being sued for financial damages and the Department of Justice who’s representing them have been served. Comar has been communicating with the DOJ and a Briefing Schedule that the Court will review is something that has been scheduled. Hopefully in early 2014 there will be a hearing on the issues. The defendants have until August 20, 2013 to respond and Comar expects them to say that there is no legitimate claim against them. Comar will then have the opportunity to respond, there will be replies and oral arguments so there is a several month process just to “get through the door of the Court.”
Is There a Judge Assigned to the Case Yet?
Judge Jon Tigar is the judge assigned to the case in the 9th Circuit District Court in San Francisco. He approved the Stipulation and he will be hearing the preliminary motions.
Do You Think That the DOJ is Going to File a Motion to Dismiss?
Comar expects the DOJ to file a Motion to Dismiss (case should not proceed) under Rule 12 of the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure.
A lot more coverage of the case is needed because it would be difficult for Judge Tigar to dismiss the case if there were more people behind it. There is a little bit of a credibility gap and when people hear about the case, they are shocked; “could this be happening?” Comar feels that it is his job to close this gap. Too many people have yet to hear about it.
People generally hear about Supreme Court cases, but this case has different issues. The defendants have been served and the case will be heard by the Court. Most of the hard work has been done, so hopefully by the time it goes before the court, the credibility gap will be closed. Discovery (research) will need to be done or some fund raising may be needed to pay additional attorneys, but in the next year, mostly briefings will be done and those preparations have been done.
Comar has reached out to several groups with various responses. At this point he is looking for natural allies, but will take help from where he can get it. This is an issue that touches all Americans.
Are You Disappointed in the Media Coverage this Case has Received So Far?
The media coverage so far has been pretty small… The idea that this is a new precedent as to the liability of former leaders is a misconception. Comar is asking the Court not to recognize new law but to recognize old law as in the Nuremberg Trials that dictate the principles of where and when you can go to war and why the Court has the ability to conduct a review.
Comar has met very prominent liberal individuals about this case. responses have been of excitement and some have been lukewarm. There is an impression that it can’t be done and that includes people you’d think would be really into the lawsuit… not just the media itself.
This is an experiment on Comar’s end, but he believes that he can find people who are open to the idea not as a radical idea but as a fundamental idea of American Jurisprudence that leaders are held to the same law that everyone else is. It was radical 1,000 years ago in the Magna Carta. The disappointing part is that people have forgotten the respect of due process and the application of the law to all people.
We as a people have become removed from that philosophy and their merits, which are quite strong. We need to remind people that these are humans too, they’re not kings, they are subject to the same law that everyone else is and the fact that Americans do not realize that is disappointing to say the least.
Comar is optimistic that there are many people who do remember that this country was founded on those principles. We do not have to go far to find precedent for this, Nuremberg has amazing precedent with respect to leaders, not just with military leaders who follow orders, but with the political leadership who plan and wage war.
They are subject to these laws, to the regulation of these rules and the Court in Nuremberg said that planning and waging a war of aggression in violation of treaties is called the War of the Supreme Kind; planning is just as bad as the war crimes and genocide.
If they didn’t plan the war, they would not have the war crimes and genocide. So the planning is what the Nuremberg Trials is all about and is a 60 year old case. Comar’s job is to remind people that he is not trying to do something new, but something old and controversial, that is the real legal challenge.
The defendants at Nuremberg were all high ranking “political” leaders charged with crimes against peace or crimes of aggression and the conspiracy to engage in that kind of crime so they were not talking about aliens, they were talking about people getting together and planning out a war with the same intent to, in the case of World War II, invade countries and eliminate the Jewish people.
In this case, it is about planning a war to overthrow the Hussein regime and invade Iraq going back to 1998 and those materials are still available. There is a website called Project for a New American Century so nobody is hiding evidence, it’s right there. Nobody has even bothered to take the site down, even though there is no new content since George W. Bush left office, but you can read it, see the plans to invade Iraq and overthrow the Hussein regime.
Not only that, the people who left the Bush Administration wrote tell all books to make a profit so there is not a lot of need to gather evidence… it’s publicly out there already. Some of these books are quite open and honest about the planning of the invasion of Iraq, especially immediately following 9/11 so none of this is a secret. The New York Times and Washington Post reported this so none of this has been hidden. When you take each piece and put it together, the facts start to look like it’s a crime which was prosecuted 60 years ago of planning out a war, without a just cause, in violation of international law, and Comar believes that needs to go before a Court.
Is this Going to be a Jury Trial?
A plaintiff’s and defendant’s right is to request a jury, so 12 people could be em-paneled to review the evidence if they make it that far. Comar has requested a jury trial on behalf of the Plaintiff.
Are You and Your Colleagues Concerned About any Retaliation or Retribution in Regards to this Case?
Comar, as an Office of the Court, does not fear any retribution and joked about friends being afraid of a “drone strike.” Comar puts a lot of faith in our culture of law that is 800 years old in this country stemming from the Magna Carta and the concept of legalism. We have a culture where people can go to Court, even if it is completely superfluous, ridiculous or asinine, but everyone is entitled to their day in court.
A judge can hear them out and if the case is completely merit-less, toss it out and if not, the judge can rule. That is why we have such robust pro se rules. We let people go to court without lawyers and a lot of people due represent themselves and that is a right that we have as Americans and descendents of an Anglo-American tradition that people can “Petition the King for Redress” as it says in the English Bill of Rights from 1689. Our first Amendment also protects the Right to Petition which is what this is.
Comar thinks that as an American, he feels perfectly right in addressing the Court and feels no security threat at all with respect to taking this position or representing Ms. Saleh. He thinks that we have a very stable judiciary as far as things go and that the vast majority of judges are good decent people who want to make the right call, but they need a good reason to do that.
Comar understands that that is his job to give the judge a reason to rule on that, not the judges. Comar believes that if his life was ever threatened or anything ever happened to him that it would be more of a reflection of the current state of society than anything else. If that were really to happen we have, as a society, really crossed some barriers and boundaries into a really different country.
Lawyers get killed in other countries, but Comar is not worried, the real judicial threat is to the defendants. The President can pardon the defendants for Federal offenses and the consequences would be more political, but you can not really blame the lawyer for doing his job. We are not the Soviet Union or East Germany, but Comar believes that as long as he makes good faith arguments to the court, he is protected by the court, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. His biggest concern is that people will take the case as a joke, but now that there is a hearing, hopefully people will take this more seriously. Now that there is an Order on the Briefing hopefully people will start taking the case more seriously.
Comar on the Apathy of the American People:
The saddest part is the apathy of the American people. Even Cindy Sheehan felt apathetic about how the courts treated the issues and not taking them seriously. Where have the courts and judges been? We do not have a tradition of courts going after or taking an active role in this kind of issue but hopefully with this case, the court will have the opportunity to adjudicate some of these issues and maybe set some good law with respect to the accountability of leaders and the laws that govern war and peace. The saddest thing is that we are starting to live in a country of hopelessness and that means that the people who have done the most harm have won. That’s not who we are as people, we need to fight this.
The people of Jordan are truly hopeless and have lost everything. In the United States, we have so much abundance and rights that when you see what has gone on in Iraq and Jordan, personally, how can we be apathetic here in the United States? What if 10 people were on the same page? What if 50 lawyers were on the same page? What if all of us were on the same page? With all of the technology, communications and resources at our fingertips, the worst offense is for all of us to become apathetic and hopeless, especially when other people around the world have less, but they are still willing to hope. What this case is about is to capture that American spirit and energy back and to say “this is what we can do with all we have.”
In closing, the plaintiff, Ms. Saleh is an amazing artist. WitnessIraq.com will try to post some of work on the internet shortly. It is really powerful stuff.
Quietmike.org and I will be following this case on an ongoing basis. I have direct contact with Inder Comar, Esq. If there are any additional questions or if you want to get involved in supporting the case. This is all a court record. It will remain on the books. Mr. Comar would prefer that instead of donations, if the article encouraged readers, he would like you to share the story and to sign our change.org petition. It has been an honor to follow this case, get ahold of Mr. Comar and speak to him personally.One of the highlights of my life in recent years.