of the United States under LBJ
(1967-1969); he now spends his days lending an air of political legitimacy
leftist groups -- and I do mean extremist
. The general consensus on Mr. Clark is that he is well-meaning
, yet inexplicably gullible
, and not too bright to boot. Whether or not any of these labels actually fit remains a mystery
Ramsey Clark was born in 1927, the son of unspectacular Truman Attorney General/Supreme Court Justice Tom Campbell Clark. Lyndon B. Johnson appointed him to the Cabinet in 1967, mostly to force the elder Clark off of the bench for conflict of interest reasons (and to allow the appointment of the far more deserving Thurgood Marshall). As AG, Ramsey Clark had repeated showdowns with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who almost always got his way over the comparatively weak Clark. The most heated of such showdowns was on Hoover's decision to wiretap Martin Luther King, Jr.; Clark eventually backed down.
However, despite Hoover's routinely carrying out orders without Clark's approval, Clark never speaks ill of the FBI strongman. He was, after all, complicit with Hoover's COINTELPRO, and actually directed the FBI to spy on black groups after riots in Newark and Detroit. Further proof that Clark's leftist ideals were not yet fleshed out during his time in office comes from his emphatic toeing of the line on such issues as Vietnam, draft dodgers, and the Kennedy assassinations (he was a firm supporter of the lone gunman theory in both cases). In 1968, he prosecuted Dr. Benjamin Spock for being such a vocal advocate of draft resistance. No wonder then, the recent puff pieces on Clark published by his current allies rarely mention the decisions he made when he actually wielded real political power.
Soon after leaving the Justice Department upon the inauguration of Richard Nixon, Ramsey Clark began to drift to the left. He initiated a private probe into the deaths of Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, condemned the bombing of Vietnam, and defended anti-war protestor Philip Berrigan. All of this led up to the 1974 New York Senate race, in which he fought Daniel Moynihan and Bella Abzug for the Democratic nomination. In this crowded field, the progressive vote was split between Abzug and Clark, and Moynihan took the nomination and the election. This would be Clark's last foray into mainstream politics.
From this point onward, Clark stepped up his rhetoric against the country which once made him Attorney General. He visited Tehran in 1980 to participate in a forum about America's "crimes", the first of many such meetings for Clark. As the 80's and 90's wore on, he publicly voiced his support for such friendly people as Col. Moammar Qadaffi, Grenada's dynamic duo of Bernard and Phyllis Coard, Bosnian mass rapist Radovan Karadzic, Mumia Abu-Jamal, genocidal Rwandan Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, Leonard Peltier, Slobodan Milosevic, and Saddam Hussein.
Clark is proof that the ultra-right and ultra-left are fundamentally the same. Perhaps the only country he despises more than the United States is Israel, and he consistently defends Arab terrorists, ex-Nazis, and other "framed" individuals who just happen to want Israel wiped off the face of the earth.
In 1989, he defended cult leader/con artist Lyndon LaRouche, and ironically declared that LaRouche was the victim of a new COINTELPRO, this time against those who combat the conspiracy to smuggle illegal drugs into the United States. Clark's knowledge of law not being quite what you would expect from an Attorney General, he lost the case and LaRouche went to jail. Of course, Clark continued to speak on LaRouche's behalf, continually pointing fingers at an invisible conspiracy.
In 1990, Clark discovered his ideological soulmates in the Workers World Party (WWP), a Stalinist offshoot of the Socialist Workers Party formed in 1959 by those who supported the Soviet invasion of Hungary. The WWP had chosen Clark to head up their National Coalition to Stop US Intervention in the Middle East. See my Workers World Party writeup for more on these guys. For now, all you need to know is that the WWP, like any other extremist organization, creates fronts for their activities to lure in uninformed neophytes who might otherwise be turned off by the sect's history. The National Coalition was one such front (which acted under the auspices of the larger but equally transparent People's Anti-War Mobilization).
The National Coalition came to the forefront of extreme leftist activities during Operation Desert Storm. Unlike more moderate anti-war groups (which were anti-Hussein as well as anti-Bush), the WWP was pro-Saddam, though quietly. During this period, Clark merely served as a mouthpiece for Gavriella Gemma, the real WWP operative behind the National Coalition. Attempts by more peaceful anti-war groups to persuade Clark of the error of his faction were fruitless; Clark consistently would reply with what "Gavriella said".
The National Coalition grew through 1991, staging two major marches on Washington, D.C. and earning public endorsements from Casey Kasem and Spike Lee. Throughout much of the period of the Gulf War, Clark was in Iraq, at the personal invitation of Saddam Hussein, with whom he met on several occasions. At the same time, the WWP was struggling to maintain control of the National Coalition, even going to the point of calling the police on factions within the group spreading unapproved messages. But with the end of the war in the Middle East, public support faded, and the WWP needed a new plan to capitalize on their new-found momentum.
The result was the International Action Center, a new front for the WWP, headed by Ramsey Clark. As the international focus shifted from the Middle East to the Balkans, the IAC followed, establishing what is known as the "Red-Brown Alliance" between European socialists and fascists. The purposes of this odd alliance is simply to combat the spread of capitalism and democracy in Eastern Europe, and to defend dictatorship. To this day, the IAC continues, most recently bringing charges of war crimes against Bill Clinton and his administration. The words in "George Bush, International War Criminal" are his, or more accurately, his scriptwriter's; it's the IAC's opinion that the US sanctions against Iraq are the worst genocidal act of the 1990's.
Ramsey Clark is getting old, and his face constantly sags in confusion, except when it is being pulled taut by puppet strings. He constantly seeks out the "war crimes" of the West, while ignoring the crimes of those he represents and befriends. No other major American politician of this half-century has been so lured and duped by the charm of dictators, or so misguided in his very real and honest quest for justice and truth.
Think I've put too much of my own personal spin on this guy? Research him on the web and come to your own conclusions; I'd be shocked if they were different from mine, whether you're an activist or not. You can start at his own site at http://www.iacenter.org, but please remember that it's only half the story, and a biased half at that. And, of course, any corrections would be appreciated. -Uber