William Ramsey Clark (born December 18, 1927 – April 9, 2021) was an American lawyer, activist and federal government official. A progressive, New Frontier liberal, he occupied senior positions in the United States Department of Justice under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, notably serving as United States Attorney General from 1967 to 1969; previously he was Deputy Attorney General from 1965 to 1967 and Assistant Attorney General from 1961 to 1965.
- A right is not what someone gives you; it's what no one can take from you.
- New York Times, 2 October 1977
- The measure of your quality as a public person, as a citizen, is the gap between what you do and what you say.
- There are few better measures of the concern a society has for its individual members and its own well being than the way it handles criminals.
- A great many people in this country are worried about law-and-order. And a great many people are worried about justice. But one thing is certain: You cannot have either until you have both.
- As quoted in Attorney General and Rebel With a Cause, Dies at 93, By Douglas Martin, New York Times, (10 April 2021)
- The consistent underlying psychology of the United States, which has held the lead in nuclear war capability and capacity throughout these 40 [now 75] years, should be understandable to anyone who has ever known a violent neighborhood bully. The government of Americans means to have its way through the use and threatened to use of superior force. It will lie. It will deceive. It will kill. It will escalate the threat and use of force to the highest level it dares. It will bluff, dangerous as that can be. It will do whatever is must to dominate. It does this in the face of the fact that its very preparation for a nuclear war may destroy all life. American war planners busily devised strategies for crippling the Soviet Union with revealing names like BROILER, FROLIC, SIZZLE, SHAKEDOWN, DROPSHOT, and VULTURE. The number of Soviet targets to be destroyed grew in number from 20 cities in December 1945 to 200 cities in 1949 and to 3261 total targets by 1957. The number of times the use of nuclear weapons has been contemplated by Americans is unbearable.
- What is to be said of leaders with the mental acuity and moral perceptions revealed by these disclosed words and deeds? They are at best enemies of life without understanding. Psychologically, they disconnect all feeling for the beauty of the planet — a rose, an impala in motion, a baby’s hand, a Confucian analect, a Bach cantata, a parable of Jesus, pilgrims bathing in the Ganges, a crowd watching a soccer game in Rio, the subway in Moscow, the skyline in Manhattan. They cannot think or feel about the human meaning of what they do.,, A single Trident II submarine can inflict more death than all prior wars in history. Twenty-four missiles, launched while submerged, each with seventeen independently targeted, maneuverable nuclear warheads five times more powerful than the atom bomb that destroyed Nagasaki, can travel 5,000 nautical miles to strike within 300 feet of 408 predetermined targets. Nuclear winter might follow even if no other weapons are used.
No nation or individual can be permitted to possess the power to destroy the world. An imperative need is for an informed and active public struggling for its right to survive. Public ignorance and apathy is “as much a concern for survival of the species as the unthinkable power to destroy the world wielded by a few men in a mindless manner”
- American aggression had already created incalculable levels of “misery for the world”; that “the poor of the planet made poorer, dominated and exploited by the foreign policies of the U.S. and its rich allies;” that “the U.S. invasion of Iraq was a war of aggression, an offense called ‘the supreme international crime’ in the Nuremberg Judgment.
- Speaking in 2004 in Iraq, quoted in Ramsey Clark Described His Government As Humanity’s Ever More Threatening and Treacherous Enemy in Life/Philosophy, by Jay Janson, CounterCurrents (21 April 2021)
- You know, the Nuremberg Tribunal called the war of aggression the supreme international crime, and it is. And George W. Bush has waged a war of aggression against Iraq. He’s killed more than 100,000 people. Are their lives worth nothing? Can we have a moment of silence in memory of all the people who have died in Iraq because of the criminal acts of George W. Bush in waging this war of aggression? Every moment of their lives is fraught with danger right now because of us. The world is the most dangerous place it’s ever been now because of what our country has done, and is doing, and we have to take it back. We can’t wait four more years. There can’t be any more Fallujahs. Fallujah is the 21st century equivalent of Guernica. We just went in and destroyed that city, drove the people out, killed them, thousands. We don’t know how many. They won’t even bother to count who’s been killed or how many, or estimate how many. They just keep killing. Almost every day we’re reading about another checkpoint where some family got wiped out because they didn’t do what they were supposed to do, according to the military there.
- Abu Ghraib is unbelievable in the innocent times of 1961, that we would torture people that way, and on the instructions of the president of the United States and his highest legal advisers. “Torture is OK,” they said. “Go for it, fellas.” If we can’t renounce that and remove it from office, then the Constitution doesn’t work anymore... We’ve got to do more than take back the Constitution. There has to be accountability for what’s happened. The Constitution says that the president, vice president and other officials of the United States shall be removed from office upon impeachment for and conviction of high crimes and misdemeanors.... If you care about the Constitution, you better start talking to your member of the House of Representatives and say impeachment now is essential to the integrity of the United States government and to the future of the United States. We’ve had more than 500,000 people sign on “Vote to Impeach.” We need to get 5 million, and we need to get 5 million on there quick. And then the Congress will react.
- The world is the most dangerous place it's ever been now because of what our country has done, and is doing, and we have to take it back.
- "There can't be any more Fallujahs. Fallujah is the 21st century equivalent of Guernica. We just went in and destroyed that city, drove the people out, killed them, thousands. We don't know how many."
- He (Saddam) had this huge war going on, and you have to act firmly when you have an assassination attempt.
- BBC interview, 28 November 2005, about the torture and murder of 148 men and boys near the mainly Shi'ite town of Dujail, Iraq in 1982.
- Our overriding purpose, from the beginning right through to the present day, has been world domination — that is, to build and maintain the capacity to coerce everybody else on the planet: nonviolently, if possible; and violently, if necessary. But the purpose of our foreign policy of domination is not just to make the rest of the world jump through hoops; the purpose is to facilitate our exploitation of resources. And insofar as any people or states get in the way of our domination, they must be eliminated — or, at the very least, shown the error of their ways.”
- Quoted in Bully - Ramsey Clark on American Militarism, Derrick Jensen The Sun Magazine, (14 February 2018)
- US Foreign Policy is the Greatest Crime Since WWII... American aggression had already created incalculable levels of misery for the world.... the poor of the planet [are] made poorer, dominated and exploited by the foreign policies of the U.S. and its rich allies... the U.S. invasion of Iraq was a war of aggression, an offense called ‘the supreme international crime’ in the Nuremberg Judgment.”
Quotes about Ramsey Clark
- The amicus brief submitted on Saleh’s behalf by the group of attorneys — including former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, the president of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, the former president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the former president of the National Lawyers Guild, a founding board member of the International Commission for Labor Rights, and the co-chair of the International Committee of the National Lawyers Guild, among others — states that the previous court was “forbidden” to use Westfall protections to dismiss the charges because the Nuremberg Tribunal established “norms” that prohibit “the use of domestic laws as shields to allegations of aggression […] National leaders, even American leaders, do not have the authority to commit aggression and cannot be immune from allegations they have done so.”
A second amicus brief was also filed by the nonprofit Planethood Foundation — a compelling action in itself, considering the organization was established in 1996 by the sole surviving Nuremberg chief prosecutor, Benjamin Ferencz. This brief cautions that “those in positions of power” should not be allowed to subvert their influence to escape responsibility for their crimes. This brief cites the U.N. statement given after Nuremberg proceedings that, “planning, initiating, or waging a war of aggression is a crime against humanity for which individuals as well as states shall be tried before the bar of international justice.”
...Calls to charge the Bush administration for war crimes have grown intense as recent reports estimate well over one million people have died as a result of the Iraq war.
- Ramsey Clark, who championed civil rights and liberties as attorney general in the Johnson administration, then devoted much of the rest of his life to defending unpopular causes... died on Friday at his home in Manhattan. He was 93... Mr. Clark... shunned a government limousine in favor of his own beat-up Oldsmobile, set an ambitiously liberal course as attorney general.. He filed the first lawsuit to force a school district — Dale County, Ala. — to desegregate or else lose its federal school aid. He went on to file the first voting rights and school desegregation suits in the North.... He oversaw the drafting of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1968 — better known as the Fair Housing Act — which addressed housing discrimination... Mr. Clark went into private legal practice and soon devoted more and more of his time to representing the disadvantaged and the unpopular, including Alaskan Natives, war resisters, rioters at the Attica prison in New York State and Lyndon LaRouche... In 1972...Mr. Clark... publicly criticized American conduct of the [Vietnam] war. ... In 2011, he condemned NATO’s bombing campaign against Qaddafi’s government. In 2013, he said Iran had no intention of building a nuclear bomb and denounced sanctions against that country. Later, he protested lethal attacks by unmanned American drone aircraft on other nations... In 2008, the United Nations General Assembly awarded Mr. Clark its Prize in the Field of Human Rights, which it gives every five years to human rights defenders.
- Ramsey Clark, Attorney General and Rebel With a Cause, Dies at 93, By Douglas Martin, New York Times, (10 April 2021)
- Mr. Clark often told voters what they did not want to hear. He advocated gun control legislation in speeches to hunters and told defense industry workers that their plants should be closed... Mr. Clark was the author or co-author of several books, including “The Fire This Time: U.S. War Crimes in the Gulf” (1992) and “The Torturer in the Mirror” (2010)... He was also one of the most quotable public figures of his generation, many of his pronouncements tending toward aphoris..
- Ramsey Clark, Attorney General and Rebel With a Cause, Dies at 93, By Douglas Martin, New York Times, (10 April 2021)
- It is likely that well before Clark took his bizarre positions in support of highly repressive, violent, and intolerant political systems and their leaders, he came to the conclusion that the United States was the most dangerous and reprehensible source of evil in the world. This overarching belief led to the reflexive sympathy and support for all the enemies and alleged victims of the United States. They include dictators of different ideological persuasion noted above, whose inhumane qualities and policies Clark was unable to discern or acknowledge, let alone condemn. It was sufficient for Clark's moral accounting that if these dictators were opposed to (and allegedly victimized by) the United States, they deserved and earned his sympathy."
- Paul Hollander, From Benito Mussolini to Hugo Chavez: Intellectuals and a Century of Political Hero Worship, pg. 272 (2016)
- Crimes against humanity
- International Criminal Court
- International law
- Iraq War
- Rule of law
- War crimes