William Ramsey Clark was born December 18, 1927 in Dallas, Texas. His father was Tom C. Clark, whom President Harry Truman appointed as both a United States Attorney General and a Supreme Court Justice.
Ramsey Clark served in the U.S. Marine Corps during 1945-46, then earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1949, and later obtained both a Master’s degree and a J.D. from the University of Chicago. In 1951 he became an associate and partner in the Texas-based law firm of Clark, Reed and Clark.
During the presidential administrations of John F. Kennedy and then Lyndon Johnson, Clark served as Assistant Attorney General of the Lands Division from 1961-65, Deputy Attorney General from 1965-67, and U.S. Attorney General from 1967-69. Throughout his tenure as A.G., Clark focused on social issues and civil rights. He set up the first federal narcotics addict-treatment unit; he restructured federal prisons to emphasize the importance of rehabilitation, early release, education, and job training rather than punishment; and he was the first Attorney General to call for the elimination of the death penalty.
Following his years in the Justice Department, Clark worked as a law professor and became a prominent figure in the anti-Vietnam War movement.
In 1970 Clark founded the Committee for Public Justice (CPJ), which opposed the FBI and other internal security agencies in the United States. Significantly, CPJ condemned the FBI’s investigation of the Communist Party USA.
In 1973, Clark and the NAACP‘s Roy Wilkins denounced the Chicago Police Department and the state’s attorney for their roles in the 1969 shooting deaths of Black Panther Party members Mark Clark and Fred Hampton. Ramsey Clark argued that the two Panthers had been killed because U.S. authorities placed no value on the lives of black people.
In 1974 Clark was the Democratic Party’s candidate for a U.S. Senate seat representing New York, but he lost to Republican Jacob Javits. Two years later, Clark again sought the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate but was defeated in the primary by Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
In the 1980s Clark was a leader of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), a major Soviet front group. In November 1980, he went to Malta to participate in an IADL congress, where he chaired the Commission on the Right to Security and Self-Fulfillment as Human Rights.
In May 1981 Clark sponsored a demonstration against U.S. policy in South America. The Marxist-Leninist Workers World Party (WWP) organized the event through its front group, the People’s Antiwar Mobilization.
In 1986 Clark went to Nicaragua to attack U.S. policy there. At that time, the Reagan administration was giving financial and military aid to the Contra forces that were seeking to overthrow Nicaragua’s Marxist Sandinista government—which was backed by the Soviet Union, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, and Yasser Arafat‘s Palestine Liberation Organization.
In 1991 Clark founded the International Action Center, which serves as an umbrella foundation for a host of anti-war radical groups and is staffed by members of the Workers World Party. In the early 1990s Clark began a long tenure as the WWP’s official spokesman; he also headed the party’s National Coalition to Stop U.S. Intervention in the Middle East.
In 1994 Clark founded the International Peace for Cuba Appeal (IPCA), an affiliate of the International Action Center. Other prominent IPCA initiators included CIA traitor Philip Agee, academic Noam Chomsky, and U.S. Congressmen John Conyers and Charles Rangel.
In a December 1997 interview with Impact International, Clark claimed that when the Cold War against the Communists had ended, America decided that “Islam would be the new enemy” and thus launched a “war against Islam.” On another occasion, Clark said that Islam “is probably the most compelling spiritual and moral force on earth today.”
In late 1998 Clark was the keynote speaker at a human-rights conference organized by Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. There, Clark identified the U.S. as the world’s worst human-rights abuser and emphasized that America’s transgressions in this regard were nothing new. “The governments of the rich nations, primarily the United States, England and France,” said Clark, were mostly responsible for the wording of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which showed “little concern for economic, social and cultural rights.”
In April 1999 Clark addressed a letter to Bill Richardson, who he thought was America’s ambassador to the United Nations. In the letter, Clark complained that “the U.S. assaults both Slavs and Muslims to stimulate them to attack each other and to control both.” But Richardson was no longer an ambassador at that time; he already had been U.S. Energy Secretary for more than a year.
Clark fundamentally opposed prisons and the death penalty. When asked what should replace those two institutions, he said: “I don’t believe in punishment.” Pressed to be more specific, Clark described a place with “quarters that are reasonably comfortable, where guests can be received. Adequate food and clothing and health care. Where the family could come and live.” In a 2001 interview, Clark said: “The imposition of the death penalty was—and remains—blatantly racist.
In 2001 Clark said that the U.S. was “not a democracy,” and he deemed it “a terrible misunderstanding and a slander to the idea of democracy to call us that.” Rather, Clark explained, America was “a plutocracy,” “a government by the wealthy,” and a place where “the concentration of wealth and the division between rich and poor” are more extreme than anywhere else on Earth.
That same year, Clark denounced America’s foreign policy for its long history of seeking “to deprive governments and peoples of the independence that comes from self-sufficiency in the production of food,” and for turning countries all over the world into “our surrogate[s].” “U.S. foreign policy,” he said, was “completely materialistic and enforced by violence, or the threat of violence, and economic coercion.”
Speaking at an anti-Iraq War march in November 2002, Clark likened President George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler and proclaimed that any U.S. invasion of Iraq “will be genocide again.”
At a National Press Club event in May 2003, Clark said that:
- “U.S. militarism threatens the destiny of humanity.”
- “This country of ours has committed the most serious act of aggression in its history by engaging in a war of aggression [against Iraq] without a declaration of war by Congress.”
- “We harbor the vast majority of all weapons of mass destruction … yet we demand absolute obedience to our will.”
- “I urge everyone who cares about the integrity of our Constitution to take back the Constitution by insisting that the House of Representatives, which has the sole power of impeachment, process impeachment proceedings now against President Bush for launching this war of aggression.”
In February 2006, Clark helped lead a protest march of approximately 100 supporters of communist and nationalist movements seeking to prevent the construction of a proposed U.S. military base in Bulgaria.
In October 2008, Clark joined several thousand college professors, students, and academic staff in signing a “Support Bill Ayers” statement to express solidarity with the former Weather Underground Organization terrorist who had recently come under considerable media scrutiny because of his relationship to then-presidential candidate Barack Obama. The statement condemned the “determined and sustained political attack” and the “demonization” campaign that allegedly were being directed at Ayers.
In December 2008 in Los Angeles, Clark made a presentation at a National Conference on Socialism sponsored by the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
On September 17, 2010, Clark attended a memorial service at the Convent Avenue Baptist Church in Harlem, New York, to honor to the recently deceased Rev. Dr. Lucius Walker, a longtime supporter of Fidel Castro and Saddam Hussein. Others in attendance included Cuba’s United Nations Ambassador Pedro Núñez Mosquera, Nicaraguan Ambassador María Eugenia Rubiales de Chamorro, New York City Councilman Charles Barron, and Akbar Mohammed of the Nation of Islam. Charles Rangel, Jose Serrano, and Maxine Waters were among the congressional representatives who sent messages of condolence and praise that were read aloud at the event.
On September 21, 2010, Clark—who opposed any kind of U.S. intervention designed to force Iran to abandon its nuclear energy/weaponry program—spoke at a New York meeting attended by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and approximately 130 members of American “peace and social justice movements” as well as a number of leading black activists. At this event, representatives from various left-wing organizations denounced America’s many injustices—e.g., the displacement of African Americans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina; the ever-expanding prison-industrial complex; the bad conditions under which political prisoners in the U.S. were forced to live; the overall economic gloom in which the United States was mired; and of course the crisis in U.S.-Iranian relations. Among those in attendance were Amiri Baraka, International Action Center co-director Sara Flounders, Larry Holmes of Bail Out the People Movement, former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, and Michael McPhearson of United for Peace and Justice.
On January 12, 2013 at Riverside Church in New York, Ramsey Clark and Sara Flounders initiated the signing of a petition in support of Iran’s right to use peaceful nuclear technology.
In September 2013 Clark led an International Answer-sponsored delegation to Syria, in support of the murderous regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Among the more noteworthy individuals who accompanied Clark were Cynthia McKinney and All-African People’s Revolutionary Party member Dedon Kamathi.
For decades, Clark consistently condemned American foreign policy and its related military campaigns, from Vietnam, to Grenada, to Panama, to Nicaragua, to Libya, to Somalia, to Iraq, to the Balkans, and to Iraq again. Conversely, he backed myriad groups, governments, and individuals with radically anti-American, and even terrorist, agendas. Whatever the nature of any conflict, Clark invariably sided with America’s adversaries. Consider the following examples from 1971 through 1990:
- As chairman of the American Civil Liberties Union‘s National Council in 1971, Clark represented many anti-Vietnam War defendants and participated in teach-ins against U.S. support for South Vietnam. In this capacity, Clark worked with Leonard Boudin, a leftist attorney who was a longtime paid representative of Fidel Castro‘s Communist Cuban government. Boudin’s daughter, Kathy Boudin, was a member of the terrorist Weather Undergound Organization.
- In the summer of 1971, Clark traveled to Hanoi to show solidarity with the North Vietnamese who were torturing and murdering American POWs; he exhorted the Vietcong to continue their brave fight, then returned to the U.S. and told Congress that American prisoners were being treated very well.
- In August 1972 Clark went to Moscow and then again to Hanoi, where he denounced the U.S. on radio broadcasts but never criticized North Vietnamese human-rights abuses and war atrocities. He praised the North’s POW camps for having “better and bigger rooms than the rooms in essentially every prison I have visited anywhere,” and said he was “particularly touched by the high standards of medical attention provided by the North Vietnamese for American POWs.” “Conditions could not be better,” Clark emphasized. (This Hanoi mission was sponsored by the International Commission of Inquiry into United States Crimes in Indochina. Clark was accompanied by Hans Goran Franck, leader of the Stockholm Conference on Vietnam—a project of the Soviet-controlled World Peace Council.)
- Also during the 1970s, when Clark was an active lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights, he joined colleagues Peter Weiss and William Schnaap in defending Kurt Grenewold, a West German attorney who ran a communications network that enabled incarcerated leaders of the terrorist Red Army Faction to correspond with their comrades at large.
- In 1977 Clark went to London to assist Philip Agee — a former undercover CIA officer whose disillusionment with U.S. policy prompted him to reveal CIA secrets and the names of many agents — with his appeal resisting a deportation order.
- Calling himself the “unofficial courier” of the U.S. government, Clark met with Islamic revolutionary leaders in Tehran in December 1978; he then traveled to Paris to visit Ayatollah Khomeini the following month. When he returned to the United States, Clark held a press conference where he warned against American interference in Iran. That November, the foot soldiers of Khomeini’s revolution took 52 Americans hostages and proceeded to hold them captive in Iran for 444 days. In 1980, while the hostages were still bring detained, Clark—aided by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, the Soviet front group which he helped lead—went to Tehran to publicly denounce the U.S. at a “Crimes of America” conference organized by Khomeini’s government.
- In 1981 Clark held, at his home, a cocktail party in support of two members of the Communist Workers Party and a unionist who were convicted of plotting to bomb the National Shipbuilding Company in San Diego the previous year. (The three defendants were represented in court by attorney Leonard Weinglass.) In addition to Clark, other sponsors of the party included Haywood Burns, Abe Feinglass, Juan Gonzalez, Frances Borden Hubbard, Flo Kennedy, William Kunstler, Stewart Kwoh, Manning Marable, Margaret Ratner, and Abbott Simon.)
- After the U.S. bombing of terrorist training facilities in Libya in April 1986, Clark made his way to Tripoli to show support for President Muammar Qadhafi.
- In 1990 Clark went to Iraq to consult with Saddam Hussein while the U.S. geared up for the Gulf War military operation to drive the dictator’s invading forces out of Kuwait.
Some examples of Clark’s radicalism and anti-Americanism post-1990:
- In May 1991 Clark filed a complaint with the International War Crimes Tribunal, charging that President George H.W. Bush and members of his cabinet had been responsible for the commission of “crimes against peace, war crimes, [and] crimes against humanity” during the Gulf War. Clark later went on to write a book, titled The Fire This Time, describing the crimes he says were committed by U.S. and NATO forces during the Gulf War.
- In the early 1990s, Clark defended PLO leaders when they were sued by the family of Leon Klinghoffer, the wheelchair-bound American Jew who had been murdered by Palestinian terrorists aboard the italian cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1986.
- In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Clark visited Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to defend him in a war-crimes tribunal against charges of genocide (of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo), and to publicly condemn American imperialism. Clark also defended former Milosevic henchman Radovan Karadzic. (Notably, long before the tribunal, Clark had flown to Belgrade to support Milosevic while NATO was attempting to bomb him into submission. “It will be a great struggle, but a glorious victory,” Clark told Milosevic at that time. “You can be victorious.” Moreover, Clark advised Belgrade to sue NATO for genocide at the International Court of Justice.)
- In the 1990s Clark defended the Islamic terrorists who carried out the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, characterizing their prosecution as the charade of a racist justice system.
- Also in the nineties, Clark spoke out in support of the incarcerated Islamic Group leader Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheik who had masterminded numerous terror plots intended to strike targets in the U.S. during the 1990s. Describing Rahman as a “blind Islamic scholar,” Clark once asked: “How could a blind man be a terrorist, what could he do?” When Rahman was tried on terrorism charges, Clark asked William Kunstler and Ron Kuby to represent the defendant, but they both recused themselves. Clark then urged his own protege, the self-proclaimed radical lawyer Lynne Stewart, to become the sheik’s defense attorney. Stewart would later tell The Washington Post: “Ramsey said it would be a terrible black mark against progressive forces in the United States not to represent him [Rahman]…. He [Clark] said, ‘If you’re a fireman, and you walk by a burning building, you must run in.'”
- Clark was a member of the legal defense team—whose members were paid a combined $7 million of U.S. taxpayer money for their efforts in the case—that defended the four Islamic terrorists who had helped orchestrate the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed a combined total of 224 people. The two defendants who faced the death penalty were spared by a minority-dominated jury that was swayed by Clark’s assertion that that no member of a racial minority—African-American, Arab, or anyone else—could possibly get a fair trial in the United States. Clark also blamed the 1991 Gulf War and the subsequent United Nations sanctions against Iraq for having caused the psychological “suffering” that later prompted the Kenya/Tanzania terrorists to strike the U.S. embassies.
- In 2002 Clark filed a court petition on behalf of more than 100 terrorism suspects who, while being held at the Guantanamo Bay detention center, were allegedly not provided with: “adequate clothing, underwear and footwear”; “fairly priced food, soap, tobacco and ordinary items”; or “complete latitude in the exercise of religion.” (Contrary to Clark’s claims, there is strong evidence indicating that the prisoners were treated very humanely.)
- When the U.S. was on the brink of war with Iraq in 2003, Clark wrote a letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, accusing America of having committed war crimes during the 1991 Gulf War. “Far from being a threat to the United States, or any other people,” he wrote, “Iraq has been a victim of U.S. aggression for 12 years.”
- In 2004 Clark volunteered to join the legal defense team of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in his war-crimes trial before the Iraqi Special Tribunal. That August, he condemned the “U.S. mass media and U.S. government propaganda” that had “stripp[ed] Saddam Hussein of every redeeming human quality,” thereby making “the U.S. unilateral war of aggression against Iraq politically possible” and “a fair trial for Saddam Hussein impossible.” He further stated that American aggression had already created incalculable levels of “misery for the world”; that “all the … victims of the many U.S. interventions and the U.S. captives mutilated, or humiliated as Saddam Hussein has been, are members of the great majority of the world’s population that has beautiful darker skin”; that “the poor of the planet [are] made poorer, dominated and exploited by the foreign policies of the U.S. and its rich allies”; that “the very detention of Saddam Hussein is illegal” because “the U.S. invasion of Iraq was a war of aggression, an offense called ‘the supreme international crime’ in the Nuremberg Judgment”; and that “any court that might consider charges against Saddam Hussein must also weigh charges against the United States.”
- In 2005 Clark served as counsel for Yasser Arafat‘s PLO when the latter was sued (and lost a $116 million judgment) by the families of two Jews who had been murdered in a drive-by shooting by Hamas terrorists who had been given a safe haven and an operational base by the PLO.
- In July 2013, Clark offered to defend Nidal Malik Hasan, the Islamic jihadist who had murdered 13 people and wounded at least 31 others at Fort Hood, Texas on November 5, 2009.
Clark also threw his support behind such notorious individuals as:
- Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, a Seventh Day Adventist pastor convicted by the UN, along with his son, of herding thousands of Tutsis into a Rwandan church compound and then summoning rival Hutus, who slaughtered them in an all-day massacre in the 1990s;
- Bernard Coard, the murderer of Grenadan Prime Minister Maurice Bishop;
- Nazi war criminals Jack Riemer and Karl Linnas, the latter of whom was an ex-Nazi concentration-camp guard who oversaw the killing of approximately 12,000 resistance fighters and Jews in Estonia; (Clark argued that the crimes of Nazi war criminals should not be punished at such a late date; said that he “oppose[s] the idea of regenerating hatreds and pursuits 40 years after the fact”; and flew to Leningrad to be with with the recently deported Linnas in April 1987, as the latter lay on his deathbed.)
- Branch Davidian leader David Koresh;
- FMLN terrorist collaborator Jennifer Casolo;
- antiwar activist Philip Berrigan;
- political figure Lyndon Larouche (whom Clark defended against charges of conspiracy and mail fraud);
- American Indian rights activist and double murderer Leonard Peltier;
- former Liberian President Charles Taylor, who was once Africa’s most prominent warlord;
- the three individuals who killed Maryland police officer Bruce Prothero in 2000;
- Lori Berenson, an American convicted of supporting the leftwing Peruvian terrorist group MRTA; and
- Camilo Mejia, an American soldier who deserted his post in March 2004 as an act of protest against the U.S. war in Iraq.
Over the course of his long activist career, Clark — who viewed Palestinian terrorism as a desperate yet understandable response to “Israeli terror” — worked with numerous anti-Israel groups on American college campuses, including Al-Awda, the Muslim Students Association of the U.S. & Canada, United for Peace and Justice, and the Palestine Solidarity Movement. Depicting both the United States and Israel as oppressors and abusers of vulnerable peoples, Clark made such statements as these:
- “In Israel, 90 percent of the [Palestinian] terrorism can be attributed to the [Israeli] government; preventing [Palestinian] people from [going to] work, school, bulldozing their homes, torturing, living under curfew.”
- “If you watch what our [U.S.] government does rather than listen to what it says … you’d see for [many] years our acts have led to the erosion of dignity and sovereignty and independence for the Palestinian people and for the region.”
- “In the Israeli case, it is their presence in Palestine [that sparks terrorism], and in the U.S. case it is caused by being in places it should not be.”
Clark died on April 9, 2021, at age 93.
For additional information on Ramsey Clark, click here.