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Ramsey Clark

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United States Attorney General Ramsey Clark & President Lyndon Baines Johnson

William Ramsey Clark (born December 18, 1927) served as the 66th United States Attorney General under President Lyndon Johnson. He is the son of Supreme Court Justice Tom C. Clark. He is a recipient of the Gandhi Peace Award.

Born in Dallas, Texas, Clark served in the United States Marine Corps in 1945 and 1946, then earned a B.A. degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1949, an M.A. and a J.D. from the University of Chicago in 1950. He was admitted to the Texas bar in 1951, and to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States 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

He served in the United States Department of Justice as Assistant Attorney General of the Lands Division from 1961 to 1965, and as Deputy Attorney General from 1965 to 1967. Clark was director of the American Judicature Society in 1963. From 1964 to 1965 he was national president of the Federal Bar Association. On March 2, 1967, President Johnson appointed him Attorney General of the United States. He served in that capacity until 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 supervised the federal presence at Ole Miss during the week following the admission of James Meredith; surveyed all school districts in the South desegregating under court order (1963); supervised federal enforcement of the court order protecting the march from Selma to Montgomery; and headed the Presidential task force to Watts following the riots. He went on to supervise the drafting and executive role in passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Civil Rights Act of 1968. As Attorney General, Clark also opposed the government's use of wiretaps.

As Attorney General during some 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 fellow winner of the Gandhi Peace Award pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock and Yale chaplain William Sloane Coffin Jr. (who would later officiate at the wedding of Clark's son). Clark believed since Coffin and Dr. Spock were respected, if controversial, public figures who could afford legal counsel to fight back for them, their cases would take a long time and would “focus attention on the problems of the draft.” Clark says that he hoped to show Johnson that opposition to the war wasn’t limited to draft-dodging longhairs but included the most admired pediatrician in America, a prominent and revered patrician minister, and a respected former Kennedy Administration official (Marcus Raskin, who had been a special staff member on the National Security Council).

Activism

Following his term he worked as a law professor and was active in the anti-Vietnam War movement. He visited North Vietnam in 1972. In 1974 he was the Democratic Party's candidate for the United States Senate from New York but lost to Jacob Javits.

More recently, Clark has become well-known for his outspoken, far left-wing political views. He has also provided legal counsel and advice to controversial figures in conflict with the US or western governments, including:

  • PLO leaders in a lawsuit brought by the family of Leon Klinghoffer, the wheelchair bound elderly tourist who was shot and tossed overboard from the hijacked Achille Lauro cruise ship by Palestinian terrorists in 1986
  • The state of Iraq, serving as legal counsel for the Hussein regime.
  • Saddam Hussein, former leader of Iraq who was removed from power during a 2003 invasion led by the US
  • Camilo Mejia, a US soldier who deserted his post claiming he did not want any part of an "oil-driven war"

Clark is affiliated with VoteToImpeach, an organization advocating the impeachment of President George W. Bush. He has been an opponent of both Gulf Wars. It is also widely claimed that his association with Lyndon LaRouche in the early 1990s went beyond legal counsel to advocacy. He is the founder of the International Action Center, which has much overlapping membership with the Workers' World Party. Clark and the IAC helped found the anti-war group ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism).

In December 2004, Clark went to Iraq to join the legal team defending Saddam Hussein before the Iraqi Special Tribunal in a trial expected in 2005.

External links

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Preceded by:
Nicholas Katzenbach
United States Attorney General
1967–1969
Succeeded by:
John N. Mitchell

Template:End box

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