On June 28, 2016, the Miami-based law firm Beck & Lee served then-Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the DNC itself with a class action lawsuit for rigging the 2016 Democratic primary race in favor of Hillary Clinton.
The lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of Florida, alleges that the DNC broke its own legally binding neutrality agreements by plotting to make Hillary Clinton the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee even before the primaries had begun. It points to evidence from leaked DNC emails that expose how DNC officials treated Clinton as the only Democratic candidate even after Bernie Sanders officially declared his candidacy in April 2015.
Although Lucas’ unusual (and still unexplained) death has dominated media coverage of the story, missing from this narrative is that the death of this process server has not changed, derailed or stopped the case from proceeding. Jared Beck, the managing partner of the law firm that brought the suit, stopped to discuss the case after an evidentiary hearing late last month.
“We got involved because we got hired by hundreds and hundreds and now even thousands of people that after the primaries happened, and after all of these documents came out that we have from Wikileaks and other sources, they came to us and said: ‘You know, we don’t believe this is a fair process and we want to bring claims as representative plainants against the DNC and Debbie Wasserman Schultz.’”
“And so we’ve been retained by so many people from around the country. It’s been an amazing outpouring of support. At one point I was getting literally ten emails a minute. My email box actually broke down for a little while cause you’re getting that much support from all around the country. Some people had donated thousands of dollars and really put a lot of resources into Bernie Sanders. Others had donated $27 or less and we’re talking about unemployed folks, homeless folks. They really scraped up what they could to contribute to this campaign and they felt robbed by the process.”
“And so we’re lawyers, we bring cases against companies of all sorts when they engage in deceptive conduct. And I don’t think the DNC is any different from any other corporation that engages in fraud, and so that’s why we were happy to bring this case and we’re happy to litigate it because we think it’s just so important to the political system.”
Although only a civil lawsuit, the case stands as a very public rebuke to the DNC that so carefully stage-managed the primary process and defrauded their own members who believed the process was taking place in good faith. Should the case proceed and prevail, it would furthermore serve as a very public rebuke to the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign that could even bring Clinton’s mandate into question should she win the presidency, thereby hampering her and further weakening public support for her aggressive, militaristic agenda.
Given the high profile neocons that are now lining up to throw their support behind a Clinton presidency, the DNC lawsuit is in effect a legal challenge to the neocon faction that is preparing to jump ship from the GOP to the Democrats in the current election cycle.
At the same time, another less talked about but no less important lawsuit is taking aim squarely at the heart of the neocon cabal. Saleh v. Bush is a class action lawsuit being forwarded by Inder Comar of Comar Law that was filed in 2013 on behalf of an Iraqi refugee who was displaced from her home by the Bush administration’s illegal invasion of the country. The lawsuit alleges that Bush and other members of his administration committed the crime of aggression against the Iraqi people, the supreme crime under the Nuremberg principles.
As Comar explained in a 2014 interview:
“I practice here in San Francisco. I have my own private firm and I represent a client who’s seeking accountability for the Iraq war. She’s suing former high-ranking members of the Bush administration alleging that their conduct amounted to what’s called “aggression” under international law. That’s a principle that comes to us from the Nuremberg trials.
“So she’s asking this federal court here in San Francisco to apply Nuremberg-era precedents on these six high-ranking members of the Bush administration. That includes George W. Bush, ex-Vice President Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz. She’s asking this court to look at their conduct leading up to the war and seeing if there’s any wrong-doing that might have been committed.”
This is not the first time that Bush and the neocons have been pursued through the legal system.
In early 2011 former President George W. Bush was forced to cancel a trip to Switzerland to speak at a fundraiser for the United Israel Appeal after it was revealed that a number of human rights groups were planning to prosecute him for war crimes, including contravention of the Convention Against Torture to which the United States is a signatory.
Another round of lobbying preceded Bush’s appearance at a speaking engagement in Surrey, B.C. later that year, citing the evidence in a 2006 UN report, a 2007 Council of Europe report, a 2008 US Senate Armed Services Committee report, the testimony of UN Special Rapporteurs Nowak and Scheinin, a 2009 admission by Cheney and Bush’s own 2010 memoirs, but in this case Canadian authorities refused to enforce the law by bringing charges against him.
Perhaps most notably, Bush and seven key members of his administration, including Cheney, Rumsfeld and their legal advisers were tried and convicted in absentia by the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission for the war crimes of torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. Although the commission has no method of enforcing the decision, the conviction still stands and could potentially be used by a prosecutor if and when Bush or his colleagues step foot in a jurisdiction that is willing to uphold the law.
Whether it be the class action lawsuit against the DNC, Saleh v. Bush, or the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission conviction, there remains brave lawyers and prosecutors that are willing to stand up to the neocons, even if such a stand puts them in harm’s way. If the public is truly interested in justice for the war crimes and aggression of this dangerous faction, it is incumbent on them to stand with those who are attempting to prosecute them.