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Part of JFK's legacy lingers in Baghdad

By Michael M. Bates
web posted December 12, 2005

It's not surprising that former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark is defending the monstrous Saddam Hussein. If Clark's ever met an enemy of the United States he didn't like, he's managed to keep the fact a secret. We owe it all to John F. Kennedy. Ramsey was toiling in Texas in well-deserved obscurity when Kennedy appointed him assistant attorney general.

The next step was promotion to attorney general under Lyndon Johnson. Since then, he's racked up a record of anti-American activism few can match.

In 1972, he journeyed to North Vietnam to participate in the Communist-front International Committee of Inquiry into U.S. Crimes in Indochina. Not that the forum's designation suggested any prior conclusions had been reached or anything.

Clark visited American POWs and declared, according to the Tribune Wire Services at the time, that the POWs were healthier than he was "and I am a healthy man." He claimed to be "particularly touched" by the hygienic conditions maintained for American prisoners.

Clark had been duped. After our POWs returned home, they detailed the torture and inhumane treatment they'd suffered.

Commander John McCain told U. S. News and World Report in 1973 that, "When Ramsey Clark came over they (the North Vietnamese) thought that was a great coup for their cause." It was.

Years later, a North Vietnamese general admitted: "Visits to Hanoi by people like Jane Fonda and former Atty. Gen. Ramsey Clark and ministers gave us confidence that we should hold on in the face of battlefield reverses."

International advisor to Saddam Hussein and former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark listens to testimony at the trial of Saddam Hussein inside the Green Zone in Baghdad
International advisor to Saddam Hussein and former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark listens to testimony at the trial of Saddam Hussein inside the Green Zone in Baghdad

Over time, Ramsey has spread himself a little thin. So many terrorists to support, so little time. The Black Panthers, Germany's Baader Meinhof gang, al Qaeda members, Nicaragua's Sandinistas, the Attica prison rioters, Yugoslavia's Slobodan Milosevic, the Berrigan brothers, Lyndon LaRouche, Nazi war criminals, the 1993 World Trade Center bombers, all have been the recipients of Clark's empathy.

In 1980, 53 American hostages were held in captivity by Iran. Clark saw duty calling. He arrived in Tehran to attend the "Crimes of America International Conference." President Carter, who in one of his less lucid moments had earlier sent Clark to Iran to try to free the hostages, told the press he thought the former attorney general should be prosecuted for trying "to prove the criminality of his own country."

In 1986 the United States bombed Libyan terrorist training locations. Clark flew to Tripoli to extend his personal apology to Mohamar Qaddafi for this outrageous act of aggression against humanity. He also sued the U.S. government on behalf of the Libyans.

1992 saw Ramsey worrying about poor, persecuted Fidel Castro. Clark and fellow pinkos – and I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt on that – Harry Belafonte, Martin Sheen and Ed Asner organized a Peace for Cuba rally in New York that attracted about 3,000 other uninformed citizens.

One way there could be peace in Cuba would be to end the blatant civil rights abuses that have gone on for over forty years, but no one attending the assembly was rude enough to mention that.

Ramsey Clark has worked with comrades of the Workers World Party, a small Marxist group that focuses on "workers' solidarity" and has an affinity for North Korea's dictatorship.

A couple of years ago, Clark said something that, even by his standards, was strange. "The Christian Church," he said, "overwhelmingly - there are exceptions - who (sic) choose to call Mohammed a terrorist. They could call Jesus a terrorist too."

One might think this was ignored by most of the media because Ramsey Clark is considered a crackpot. Yet his calls to impeach President Bush routinely are reported, so that can't be the reason.

Now he's in Iraq defending Saddam Hussein. Trotting out Clark suggests Hussein realizes his cause is irretrievably lost. One thing we know for certain is that Ramsey Clark will use the trial as a way to vent his own disgust for the United States. He will turn it into yet another occasion to despise and ridicule America.

What is troublesome is how someone like Ramsey Clark could have ever, ever been made an assistant attorney general. Then, the attorney general. His positions of influence and power have given him a prominence he never would have had if he'd stayed in Texas.

Some on the Right blame Lyndon Johnson for this national embarrassment. But it was Johnson's predecessor, John F. Kennedy, who brought him to Washington as part of the New Frontier's "best and brightest."

Ah, Camelot.

Mike Bates is the author of Right Angles and Other Obstinate Truths. This essay appeared in the December 8, 2005 Oak Lawn (IL) Reporter.

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