Its official: Ramsey Clark supports fascism

Here’s the exact quote, as reported in the New York Times Dec. 7:

“I am Saddam Hussein!” the former ruler said repeatedly, shaking his fist. “Like the path of Mussolini, to resist occupation to the end, that is Saddam Hussein,” he said.

Of course one of Saddam’s lead attorneys is Ramsey Clark, perennial darling of the American left and founder of the International Action Center. The Times informs us in a Dec. 6 profile:

Clark, son of a Supreme Court judge appointed by President Harry Truman, made his mark in the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson with his role as a Justice Department official in drafting the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act, liberal landmarks of the age.

But for most of the past 40 years, he has steered an unconventional passage of his own. It has been a journey that has taken him on many a far-flung venture abroad to embrace some of the era’s most notorious figures. It is a remarkable roll call, the men who have had him at their side at times of confrontation with Washington: Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya, Slobodan Milosevic of the former Yugoslavia, Charles Taylor of Liberia.


Then there is Saddam. The two men met in Baghdad for the first time during the 1991 Gulf war, and at least four more times during the 1990s, when Clark opposed the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq after Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, and renewed when he failed to comply with UN inspectors searching for unconventional weapons.

Now, Clark is one of three foreigners – the others are a Qatari and a Jordanian – on Saddam’s five-man defense team, and Clark finds himself again explaining how a former Texas liberal finds himself working in support of a man as notorious as Saddam.

One thing that seems reasonably certain is that Clark is not in it for the money. Asked about his fee for representing Saddam, Clark said, “Not a penny,” adding that he had taken no fee from many, more contentious clients.


[A]long with more scholarly arguments, Clark mixed personal observations that suggested a sympathy for Saddam that has little in common with the widely shared view of him as a psychopathic dictator. Clark still slips into calling his client “President Saddam.”


At his trial, Saddam is charged with crimes against humanity in the killing of 148 men and teenage boys from the Shiite town of Dujail after an assassination attempt against Saddam there in 1982.

But Clark suggested that Saddam’s secret police had reason to act harshly against Shiite assassins who, he said, almost certainly had political links to Shiite-ruled Iran, then at war with Iraq.

In the interview, Clark linked his earlier legal career, fighting racial prejudice in the American South and apartheid in South Africa, with the seemingly crankier course he has taken since. In both periods, he said, he was engaged in confronting prejudice, prevailing against people “who have a habit of seeing the world in black and white, as good and evil, of demonized characters stripped of all humanity.”

That, he said, was what America had done to Saddam, and, in a way to Clark.

“I know something about that, because I get a little bit of that demonization myself,” he said.

We have always argued that pseudo-left rhetoric aside, Clark and his International Action Center are objectively pro-fascist. But even the blatantly fascistic Slobodan Milosevic was pretty slick with the pseudo-left jive, allowing at least a small window of deniability. With Saddam’s latest histrionics, that window has just closed.

We are especially curious how Uruknet, an ostensibly “leftist” Italian website which engages in abject Saddam-glorification, will respond to their hero’s invocation of Il Duce.

We must reiterate that Saddam is entitled to a fair trial and vigorous legal defense. That isn’t the issue here. The issue is Clark’s (and the IAC’s) continual political defense of Saddam and his atrocities.

A more full account from the Baltimore Sun, Dec. 6:

BAGHDAD, Iraq // Two former prisoners stood in an Iraqi courtroom yesterday and offered eyewitness accounts of torture, executions and imprisonment under Saddam Hussein. But their testimony was almost overshadowed by Hussein and his fellow defendants, who dominated the courtroom with a series of shouting matches with witnesses and a brief walkout by their defense team.

“Don’t interrupt me!” Hussein shouted angrily at the judge, who had tried with little success to make him stick to questioning the witnesses. Later, Hussein pounded on the lectern and his microphone, comparing himself to Mussolini and insisting he is the rightful ruler of Iraq.

Hussein and his seven co-defendants are being tried on charges that they were responsible for killing more than 140 Shiite Muslims from the village of Dujail in the summer of 1982 after a failed assassination attempt.

The first witness, Ahmad Hassan Muhammad, 38, riveted the courtroom with testimony about torture he said he witnessed after his arrest in 1982.

Standing 10 feet from Hussein, he briefly broke down in tears as he recalled his brother being tortured with electrical shocks in front of their 77-year-old father. He also said he saw a meat grinder with human hair and blood underneath it at a military police headquarters.

Through much of Muhammad’s account, Hussein and his fellow defendants listened in silence. At times, Hussein appeared contemplative, resting his head on one palm. Several times he laughed, once during Muhammad’s narrative of his torture and imprisonment.

At other times, shouting and insults threatened to undermine the gravity of the proceedings.

At one point, Hussein appeared to threaten the judge, saying, “When the revolution of the heroic Iraq arrives, you will be held accountable.”

Chief Judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin replied: “This is an insult to the court. We are searching for the truth.”

Before the trial adjourned until today, Hussein repeatedly interrupted testimony. “This game must not continue. If you want Saddam Hussein’s neck, you can have it,” he said.

“I am not afraid of execution,” said Hussein, who then addressed the judge, saying, “I realize there is pressure on you, and I regret that I have to confront one of my sons. But I’m not doing it for myself. I’m doing it for Iraq. I’m not defending myself. But I am defending you.”

Early in the day, the defense team, including former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, walked out after the judge refused their request to challenge the legitimacy of the court. The defendants could not leave the dock, but they became increasingly angry and boisterous, arguing and shouting at the judge, who said the lawyers could present their motions in writing.

“Why don’t you just execute us?” yelled Barzan Ibrahim al-Hassan al-Tikriti, Hussein’s half-brother and fellow defendant.

Later, al-Tikriti stood up and began shouting wildly and spitting at a man in the gallery who he said had threatened him. The judge called for order, but it remained unclear who, if anyone, had made the threat. Throughout the day, the unarmed court officers seemed reluctant to discipline the defendants as they stood up, shouted and interrupted the judge, the witnesses and their lawyers.

Initially, the defense team appeared intent on delaying the trial, a tactic that has been apparent in the court’s two earlier sessions, Oct. 19 and Nov. 28. But after a recess Amin yielded and allowed the lawyers to make their cases.

Clark, who spoke first and was given five minutes, said the defense lawyers were not being given adequate protection. He reminded the judge that two of the team’s 13 members have been assassinated since the trial began Oct. 19, calling one of the murdered lawyers “a hero to truth and justice.”

Clark said it was impossible to conduct a fair trial if the lawyers’ safety could not be ensured, and he protested when Amin cut him off briskly after his time was up.

Another member of the legal team, Najeeb al Nuaimi, was granted 16 minutes to question the legitimacy of the trial. He repeated arguments that members of Hussein’s legal team have made, saying international law prohibited the creation of a tribunal during an occupation.

He also appealed to Iraqi nationalism, saying, “We think this land has become more American than Arab.” That brought a swift rebuke from Amin, who said, “The land is Iraqi, not American.”

See our last post on Iraq.

  1. You really know how to pick ’em, Ramsey
    From Reuters, Dec. 7:

    BAGHDAD — The first woman to testify in the trial of Saddam Hussein broke down in tears yesterday as, in fear of her life, she testified behind a curtain about how she was tortured by Iraqi prison guards and jailed in Abu Ghraib.

    Identified only as Witness A, she said she was given electric shocks and beaten with cables after being forced to strip, and was fed bread through a tiny window in a prison cell she shared with another female.

    On a day in which Mr. Hussein once more disrupted the court proceedings with angry attacks and braggadocio, the woman described how she was held with hundreds of others rounded up after an attempt on Mr. Hussein’s life in the village of Dujail in 1982.

    “I was forced to take off my clothes, and he raised my legs up and tied up my hands. He continued administering electric shocks and whipping me and telling me to speak,” Witness A said of Wadah al-Sheik, an Iraqi intelligence officer who died of cancer last month.

    Several times, the woman — hidden behind a light-blue curtain — broke down. “God is great. Oh, my Lord!” she moaned, her voice electronically deepened and distorted.

    1. Let’s not forget about the other murderers
      Do not be offended by my simple comment, but my belief is that if Saddam Hussein can be tried for atrocities he commited in Iraq, it is also my belief that George w. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and those responsible for the writings in The Project of the New American Century should also be held accountable for the atrocities they imposed on the Iraqi people in Fallujah and else where in Iraq. I wouldn’t necessarily call Ramsey Clark a supporter of Fascism because i believe he is giving Mr. Hussein the justice he deserves according to the rule of law of the United Nations.

      1. Indeed not
        Why would I be offended? One of the reasons I vigorously support bringing Saddam and Milosevic to justice is because it sets a precedent that can one day be used against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Kissinger, etc.

        But maybe you weren’t paying attention when we wrote the following:

        We must reiterate that Saddam is entitled to a fair trial and vigorous legal defense. That isn’t the issue here. The issue is Clark’s (and the IAC’s) continual political defense of Saddam and his atrocities.

        Ramsey Clark supports fascism. Deal with it, dude.

    2. Clark vs. Hitchens
      Clark seems to have positioned himself as the anti-war version of Christopher Hitchens: both left-wingers and self-proclaimed contrarians who makes common cause with otherwise ideologically opposed individuals in order to forward their own agenda. Except in this case the cause isn’t Hitchen’s struggle against Islamo-fascists but rather Clark’s opposition to perceived US imperialism.

        1. Imperialism does not exist
          Weinberg would have it that ANY force ANYWHERE in the world that actually fights US domination is 1) fascist, 2) communist, 3) genocidal, 4) Stalinist, 5) whatever.

          The bottom line is that his proto-neocon values are well established. If the US invades Korea, it’s morally equivalent to Koreans defending themselves. He loves the Zaptatistas, exactly because they hold up in a handful of villages and DO NOT threaten the US empire. That’s the line that can’t be crossed.

          His reporting, by which I mean digesting other people’s reporting, is universally ignored unless he’s trotted out for a freelance hit job on whoever is opposing whatever the US war du jour is. I can’t wait until he says anyone opposing (yet another) invasion of Iran is “supporting the mullahs” or whatever.

          Since the imperial partition of Yugoslavia, which Weinberg cheered on like a trained monkey, he has precious little to say abou the fascisto-mafia goons who’ve taken over that formerly secular, peaceful country. KLA, Croatian nazis, all irrelevant. When he cheered on irrelevant groups of ostensibly left-wing collaborators in Iraq… when he equated the Nepali Maoists who fought a ten year war for democratic elections which they then won… all “stalinists”.

          Maybe Weinberg should get Bill Kristol’s nuts out of his mouth and start having an actual conversation.

          1. Thanks for the vindication, knucklehead
            Like I always say, there’s no vindication like getting it from both sides. Right, I’m a neocon. That must be why my name is on the Self-Hating Israel-Threatening (SHIT) Jews List. To be getting shit from the likes of them and the likes of you indicates that I am doing my job very well. So thanks.

            Lefter-than-thou posers in Gringolandia (I presume) who diss the Zapatistas for “only” holding a few villages are unworthy of anything other than ridicule. However, just to demonstrate to readers how thoroughly full of beans you are…

            There is loads of information on this website—much of it available nowhere else in English—about indigenous peoples resisting US and corporate domination in defense of their land and autonomy in the Andes and the Amazon, and elsewhere around Latin America and the world. We support all these struggles unequivocally.

            World War 4 Report has always forthrightly opposed US military aggression against Iran, and striven to loan a voice to the progressive opposition in Iran that opposes US war moves and the mullahs alike. (You presumably support the folks who would imprison and execute them.)

            While I do lots of “digesting” from secondary sources, and consider this a worthwhile endeavor (if it is so “ignored,” funny you felt compelled to post here), I also do lots of original reporting on struggles against US domination around the world. I was virtually the only journalist in the US to cover the progressive civil resistance to the US occupation of Iraq (and won a Project Censored award for it). I just got back from Peru, where I was reporting on the struggle of Quechua peasants to defend their lands from a US-backed mining project. But I guess anyone who isn’t running concentration camps isn’t “radical” enough for you.

            I challenge you to find any other left-wing website that has as consistently covered ongoing conflict and oppression in Kosova under NATO/KLA rule, and the ongoing war crimes cases against ex-KLA officers and Croatian neo-fascists. I’ll be waiting.

            You are the trained monkey, not me. You are the one who overlooks (cheers on?) atrocities, not me. You are the one who spews unthinking propaganda, not me.

            This item is years old. You are not invited to reply here. You can get your own website and diss me there to your heart’s content—or at least post in an item that is less than a year old.

            1. Oops, contradicted myself
              I said I challenged you to find another website of the (broadly-defined) left that as consistently covers war crimes cases against ex-KLA and Croatian officers, and then I said you weren’t invited to respond. OK, if—and only if—you can meet my challenge, I will approve a further post from you in this thread.

              Like I said, I’ll be waiting.

  2. Jeff Blankfort: anti-war movement must repudiate Clark
    We have certainly had our differences with Jeffrey Blankfort, but he hits the proverbial nail on the head this time:

    Subject: Ramsey Clark justifies massacre of Shia civilians by Saddam!

    Dear Readers,

    Some time ago, when Ramsey Clark volunteered to be a member of Saddam Hussein’s legal defense team, I sent a message to my list criticizing his decision to do that. This was not because I don’t think Saddam should be represented in court or that I think the court is legitimate but because of the message it sent to the majority of Iraqi people who despised Saddam Hussein and rightly so. The problem is, of course, is that Clark is one of the most well known representatives of the anti-war movement and represents the ANSWER coalition and in my mind this is more than the conflict of interest that it unquestionably is. Thus, the message that it sends to the Iraqi people is that the anti-war movement doesn’t really care about any Iraqis other than those who have been killed by US and UK forces, that it, in fact, does not condemn Saddam for his long history of human rights violations and for his launching a bloody war against Iran that took well over a million lives. That it was at the behest of and supported by the US does not acquit Saddam of his responsibilities as it does not clear any other dictator who the US has supported in the past or present.

    While Clark spoke eloquently in opposition to the sanctions that were imposed between the two Gulf Wars and in against the deaths and malformations caused by the US use of depleted uranium, he never said a word, nor did any of the groups in the anti-war movement publicly protest when Saddam moved to crush the Shia in the southern Iraq when they rose in legitimate rebellion in 1991. While it is important to first recognize our own culpability, one loses credibility by ignoring that of others.

    If there was any question about where Clark stands, it should be clear by this quote in today’s New York Times in which, at the very end of the article on Saddam’s day in court, he is quoted as justifying the massacre of the Shia civilians that he is accused of in this trial because Iraq was at war with Iran (that Iraq had started it, he does not mention). Said Clark:

    “Saddam had this huge war going on, and you have to act firmly when you have an assassination attempt.”

    It is long past time for the anti-war movement to drop its double standards. It can begin by saying Ramsey Clark does not speak for us. He certainly does not speak for me.

    Jeff Blankfort
    Nov. 30

    1. Clark a “darling of the American left”?
      That’s a bit much, Bill, unless you define the American left so narrowly that it includes only Marxist-Leninist sects and the kookier wings of the Greens. Chomsky, say, might be a “darling of the American left,” but Clark?

        1. I am paying attention, thanks
          Hell, I knew that the IAC was at the helm of the Troops Out Now “Coalition,” which split from ANSWER. (What precisely the dispute was that led to the split is unknown to me.)

          But really, if Clark was a “darling” of the broad left and not just a narrow sector of it, we’d see regular pieces by and interview of him in leftist publications — The Nation, The Progressive, In These Times, etc. But we don’t. Even Monthly Review and Z Magazine don’t touch him. So my point stands.

          And yes, I read your blog regularly, and I know what you’ve written about Chomsky, and he is a “left darling” — we see him everywhere, so to speak. Ditto for Naomi Klein, George Monbiot, Arundhati Roy, various other people I could name.

          1. I wish you were right…
            Ramsey Clark is being interviewed on Amy Goodman every time I turn around, and she never even throws him any hardballs. Z mag’s leading light (and Chomsky sidekick) Ed Herman is a cohort with Clark in the Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic, and you will find much from both Clark and Z on their site. Clark’s by-line has definitely appeared in The Nation more than once, albeit not recently. Common Dreams runs Clark’s spewings as if he were just another legitimate leftist. And ANSWER, alas, does not represent a “narrow sector” of the left.

  3. Vile IAC propaganda
    Here are some excerpts from IAC’s official statement, “The Trial of Sadddam Hussein: Anti-war Movement Must Reject Colonial ‘Justice'” by IAC co-director Sara Flounders. It starts off by arguing that the tribunal is illegitimate because it was organized by an occupying power. This is a valid and well-argued position, and the uninitiated will be hooked. But the piece does not (of course!) go on to argue that Saddam should instead be tried under international auspices at The Hague. Instead, it notes a “wide spectrum of political views on the character of Saddam Hussein’s government” (as if mass murder and ethnic cleansing are things we can amicably disagree on) and states:

    The trial underway now is part of the sustained U.S. effort to totally demonize Saddam Hussein. This has been an essential part of the 15-year war on Iraq. U.S. propaganda has relentlessly described Hussein as an evil madman, a brutal dictator and a threat to the entire planet who was poised to strike with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons within minutes. He was charged with having a role in 9/11 and being in league with al-Qaeda. Both Republicans and Democrats knew this was a fraud. U.S. bombs had destroyed Iraq’s entire industrial capacity. But no politician was willing to challenge the demonization.

    Note the cute little propaganda ploy here. Amid a barrage of complaints everybody can agree on (Saddam’s non-involvement in 9-11, the non-existence of his WMD, the cowardice of the Democrats) is the charge that he was a “brutal dictator.” So the implication—slipped in so subtly that the naive won’t even realize they are being manipulated—is that he wasn’t a brutal dictator! It gets worse:

    Every U.S. war against oppressed peoples and nations has begun with saturating the entire civilian population with war propaganda that so demonized the leader of the targeted population that any crime was treated as acceptable and beyond question. This has been true since the wars against Native populations and the demonization of Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Geronimo and many, many other Indigenous leaders, up to the leaders of every progressive or revolutionary struggle over the past 50 years. It doesn’t matter how mild or committed to non-violence the leader is.

    So now we have the mass murderer of northern Iraq’s indigenous Kurds and southern Iraq’s indigenous Madan (Marsh Arabs) being compared to Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse! Custer might be the better analogy! And, of course, by strong implication he was “mild” and “committed to non-violence”!

    It gets a little more transparent towards the end:

    While the U.S. demonizes Saddam Hussein, it should be remembered that the Pentagon has used weapons of mass destruction not only in Iraq but against countless other defenseless populations, from Korea and the Philippines to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Grenada, Libya, Lebanon and Yugoslavia.

    We certainly agree that a very deep double standard is at work here, but wild inaccuracies do not serve the cause of exposing it. Even if we accept the broadest possible definition of WMD, to include napalm, phospohorus and depleted uranium shells, this would still exclude Nicaragua from their list, and probably also Korea, the Philippines and Grenada. It was a pretty slick piece of propaganda up to this point. Sara just couldn’t keep from going ongepotshcket, could she?