• By The Financial District


Ramsey Clark, the attorney general in the Johnson administration who became an outspoken activist for unpopular causes and a harsh critic of US policy, has died. He was 93, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

Clark, whose father, Tom Clark, was attorney general and US Supreme Court justice, died on Friday at his Manhattan home, a family member, Sharon Welch, announced to media outlets including The New York Times and The Washington Post.

After serving in President Lyndon Johnson’s Cabinet in 1967 and 1968, Clark set up a private law practice in New York in which he championed civil rights, fought racism and the death penalty, and represented declared foes of the United States including former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman.

He also defended former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Clark’s client list included such peace and disarmament activists as the Harrisburg 7 and the Plowshares 8.

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Abroad, he represented dissidents in Iran, Chile, the Philippines and Taiwan, and skyjackers in the Soviet Union.

New York civil rights attorney Ron Kuby, who worked with Clark on numerous cases, called the death “very, very sad in a season of losses.” “The progressive legal community has lost its elder dean and statesman,” Kuby said.

“Over many generations, Ramsey Clark was a principled voice, conscience and a fighter for civil and human rights.” In courtrooms around the country Clark defended antiwar activists. In the court of public opinion, he charged the United States with militarism and arrogance, starting with the Vietnam War and continuing with Grenada, Libya, Panama and the Gulf War.

When Clark visited Iraq after Operation Desert Storm and returned to accuse the United States of war crimes, Newsweek dubbed him the Jane Fonda of the Gulf War.

Clark said he only wanted the United States to live up to its ideals. “If you don’t insist on your government obeying the law, then what right do you have to demand it of others?” he said. The Dallas-born Clark, who did a hitch in the Marine Corps in 1945-1946, moved his family to New York in 1970 and set up a pro-bono-oriented practice.

He said then that he and his partners were limiting their annual personal incomes to $50,000, a figure he did not always achieve. “Money’s not an interest of mine,” he said, but at the same time, he was meeting steep medical bills for his daughter, Ronda, who was born with severe disabilities. He and his wife, Georgia, who were married in 1949, also had a son, Thomas, a lawyer.


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