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William Ramsey Clark (born December 18, 1927) is a lawyer and former United States Attorney General. He worked for the U.S.marker Department of Justicemarker, which included service as the 66th United States Attorney General under President Lyndon B. Johnson. Ramsey is known for his advocacy for civil and human rights causes. He is also known for his role as a defense attorney for controversial figures such as Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein. He was a recipient of the Gandhi Peace Award and the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award.

Early life and career

Clark was born in Dallas, Texasmarker to Mary Jane Ramsey and Tom C. Clark, who was also a United States Attorney General and a justice of the Supreme Courtmarker. Clark served in the United States Marine Corps in 1945 and 1946, then earned a B.A. degree from the University of Texas at Austinmarker in 1949, and an M.A. and a J.D. from the University of Chicagomarker in 1950.

He was admitted to the Texas bar in 1950, and to practice before the Supreme Court of the United Statesmarker in 1956. From 1951 to 1961, Clark was an associate and partner in the law firm of Clark, Reed and Clark.

Kennedy and Johnson administrations

Clark served in the Department of Justice as the Assistant Attorney General of the Lands Division from 1961 to 1965, and as Deputy Attorney General from 1965 to 1967.

In 1967, President Johnson nominated him to be Attorney General of the United States, he was confirmed by congress and took the oath of office on March 2. There is speculation that Johnson made the appointment on the expectation that Clark's father, Associate Justice Tom C. Clark, would resign from the Supreme Court to avoid a conflict of interest. Johnson wanted a vacancy to be created on the Court so he could appoint Thurgood Marshall, the first African American justice. The elder Clark resigned from the Supreme Court on June 12, 1967, creating the vacancy Johnson desired.

Clark served as Attorney General until Johnson's term as President ended on January 20, 1969.

Clark played an important role in the history of the American Civil Rights movement. During his years at the Justice Department, he

As Attorney General during part of the Vietnam War, Clark oversaw the prosecution of the Boston Five for “conspiracy to aid and abet draft resistance.” Four of the five were convicted, including pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock and Yale chaplain William Sloane Coffin Jr.

In addition to his government work, during this period Clark was also director of the American Judicature Society (in 1963) and national president of the Federal Bar Association in 1964–65.

International activism

Following his term as Attorney General he worked as a law professor and was active in the anti-Vietnam War movement. He visited North Vietnam in 1972 as a protest against the bombing of Hanoi. He was also associated with the New York law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison before resigning to run for political office.

In 1974, he was nominated in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senator from New York defeating the party's designee Lee Alexander, but losing the election to the incumbent Jacob K. Javits. In 1976, Clark again sought the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate, but was a distant third in the primary behind Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Congresswoman Bella Abzug.

More recently, Clark has become controversial for his political views and publications and has described the War on Terrorism as a war against Islam.[30115]

In 1991, Clark accused the administration of President George H. W. Bush and "others to be named" of "crimes against peace, war crimes" and "crimes against humanity" for its conduct of the Gulf War against Iraq and the ensuing sanctions; in 1996, he added the charges of genocide and the "use of a weapon of mass destruction". Similarly, after the 1999 NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Ramsey charged and "tried" NATO on 19 counts and issued calls for its dissolution.

Ramsey Clark has been criticized by both opponents and supporters for some of the people he agreed to defend; this criticism has been exacerbated by some statements Clark has made in defense of his clients.

In 2004 Clark joined a panel of about 20 prominent Arab and one other non-Arab lawyer to defend Saddam Hussein in his trial before the Iraqi Special Tribunal. Clark appeared before the Iraqi Special Tribunal in late November 2005 arguing "that it failed to respect basic human rights and was illegal because it was formed as a consequence of the United States' illegal war of aggression against the people of Iraq." Clark said that unless the trial was seen as "absolutely fair", it would "divide rather than reconcile Iraq". Christopher Hitchens claimed that Clark was admitting Hussein's guilt when Clark reportedly stated in a 2005 BBC interview: "He [Saddam] had this huge war going on, and you have to act firmly when you have an assassination attempt".

Clark was not alone in criticizing the Iraqi Special Tribunal's trial of Saddam Hussein, which drew intense criticism from international human rights organizations. Human Rights Watch called Saddam's trial a "missed opportunity" and a "deeply flawed trial", and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found the trial to be unfair and to violate basic international human rights law. Among the irregularities cited by HRW, were that proceedings were marked by frequent outbursts by both judges and defendants, that three defense lawyers were murdered, that the original chief judge was replaced, that important documents were not given to defense lawyers in advance, that paperwork was lost, and that the judges made asides that pre-judged Saddam Hussein. One of those outburst occurred when Clark was ejected from the trial after passing the judge a memorandum stating that the trial was making "a mockery of justice". The Chief Judge Raouf Abdul Rahman shouted at Clark, "No, you are the mockery... get him out, out".

On March 18, 2006, Clark attended the funeral of Slobodan Milošević. He declared: "History will prove Milošević was right. Charges are just that: charges. The trial did not have facts." He compared the trials of Slobodan Milošević and Saddam Hussein by stating: "both trials are marred with injustice, both are flawed." He characterized Slobodan Milošević and Saddam Hussein as "both commanders who were courageous enough to fight more powerful countries."

In June, 2006, Clark wrote an article criticizing US foreign policy in general, containing a list of 17 US "major aggressions" introduced by "Both branches of our One Party system, Democrat and Republican, favor the use of force to have their way." (the list includes the Clinton years) and followed by "The United States government may have been able to outspend the Soviet Union into economic collapse in the Cold War arms race, injuring the entire planet in the process. Now Bush has entered a new arms race and is provoking a Second Cold War..."

On September 1, 2007, in New Yorkmarker, Clark, age 79, called for detained Filipino Jose Maria Sison’s release and pledged assistance by joining the latter’s legal defense team headed by Jan Fermon. Clark doubted Dutchmarker authorities’ validity and competency, since the murder charges originated in the Philippinesmarker and had already been dismissed by the country's Supreme Court.

In November 2007, Clark visited Nandigrammarker in Indiamarker where conflict between state government forces and villagers resulted in the death of at least 14 villagers.

In April 2009, Clark spoke at a session of the Durban Review Conference where he accused Israelmarker of genocide.

He was awarded the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award "for his commitment to civil rights, his opposition to war and military spending and his dedication to providing legal representation to the peace movement, particularly, his efforts to free Leonard Peltier" on October 15, 1992.

Advocating the impeachment of George W. Bush

In 2002, Clark founded "VoteToImpeach", an organization advocating the impeachment of George W. Bush and several members of his administration. For the duration of Bush's terms in office, Clark sought, unsuccessfully, to bring Bush to stand trial for impeachment. Clark was an opponent of both the 1991 and 2003 Persian Gulf War conflicts. he is the founder of the International Action Center, which holds significant overlapping membership with the Workers' World Party. Clark and the IAC helped found the protest organization A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism).

As early as March 19, 2003, the New Jerseymarker newspaper and website The Independent took note of Clark's efforts to impeach Bush and others, prior to the start of the Iraq War. The paper noted that "Clark said there is a Web site,, dedicated to collecting signatures of U.S. citizens who want President George W. Bush impeached, and that approximately 150,000 have signed to impeach, he said." A conservative magazine, The Weekly Standard, stated in an article dated February 27, 2004, "...Ramsey Clark's is a serious operation", and noted the group had run full-sized newspaper advertising on both coasts of the U.S. though the Standard also went on to describe them as also being a "angry petition stage."

Clark's speech to a counter-inauguration protest on January 20, 2005 at John Marshall Park in Washington D.C.marker was broadcast on the radio/TV program Democracy Now hosted by Amy Goodman, with Clark stating that "We’ve had more than 500,000 people sign on “Vote to Impeach.” The San Francisco Bay Guardian listed the website as one of three "Impeachment links", alongside and and The Bangor Daily News took note of the organization's website on March 17, 2006.

The organization, under Clark's guidance, drafted its own articles of impeachment against President Bush, Vice President Richard B. Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Attorney General (at the time) John Ashcroft. The document argues that the four have committed, "...violations and subversions of the Constitution of the United States of America in an attempt to carry out with impunity crimes against peace and humanity and war crimes and deprivations of the civil rights of the people of the United Statesmarker and other nations, by assuming powers of an imperial executive unaccountable to law and usurping powers of the Congress, the Judiciary and those reserved to the people of the United States." (as of 8 February 2007) claimed to have collected over 852,780 signatures in favor of impeachment.

After the Bush Administration left office in January, 2009, the website was redirected to That website asks for "the prosecution of Bush, Cheney and others for their [alleged] criminal acts" and solicits donations for this purpose. is listed on the MySpace page of Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL) in which he asks for signatories to a petition for this cause.

Notable clients

As a lawyer, he has also provided legal counsel and advice to several notable figures, including:


  1. Ancestry of Ramsey Clark
  2. War Crimes: A Report on United States War Crimes Against Iraq to the Commission of Inquiry for the International War Crimes Tribunal, by Ramsey Clark and others
  3. The Wisdom Fund, "Former US Attorney General Charges US, British and UN Leaders", November 20, 1996
  4. CJPY, "NATO found guilty", June 10, 2000
  5. John B. Judis, "The Strange Case of Ramsey Clark," The New Republic, April 22, 1991, pp. 23-29.
  6. "US rebel joins Saddam legal team",, December 29, 2004
  7. "Arguments for Removal of Case to UN (in English & Arabic)"
  8. "Chaos mars Saddam court hearing",, December 5, 2005
  9. "Sticking up for Saddam",
  10. "Iraq's Shallow Justice" Human Rights Watch, December 29, 2006
  11. "Hanging After Flawed Trial Undermines Rule of Law" Human Rights Watch, December 30, 2006
  12. "Final Opinion of UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention"
  13. "Saddam trial 'flawed and unsound'", November 20, 2006
  14. [1], San Diego Union Tribune, November 5, 2006
  15. [2] Daily Times of Pakistan, March 19, 2006
  16. The People vs. George Bush : Iraq War Crimes Tribunal
  17., Ex-US attorney general calls for Joma release
  18. Ramsey Clark visits Nandigram
  19. Nandigram says 'No!' to Dow's chemical hub
  20. The U.N.'s Anti-Antiracism Conference, Wall Street Journal, April 22, 2009.
  21. The Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Recipients List
  22. Kevin Coogan, "The International Action Center: 'Peace Activists' with a Secret Agenda," Hit List, November/December 2001.
  23. Coogan, "The International Action Center," Hit List, Nov/Dec 2001.

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