The loss of life was confirmed by a great-niece, Sharon Welch. The exact trigger was not instantly identified.
The son of conservative Supreme Court Justice Tom C. Clark, Mr. Clark grew up within the lap of the political institution and was the final surviving member of Johnson’s cupboard. As a younger man, he confirmed few indicators of his firebrand future, however within the half-century that adopted his 22-month time period because the nation’s prime prosecutor, he underwent a exceptional political transformation and became a persistent voice of dissent towards the federal government.
As attorney general, Mr. Clark had prosecuted pediatrician and best-selling creator Benjamin Spock for conspiracy to assist draft resisters in the course of the Vietnam War. Within three years of leaving workplace, Mr. Clark had flown to Hanoi to denounce U.S. aggression and went to court docket to defend Philip Berrigan and different main anti-war activists.
For a time, Mr. Clark was a darling of the left — a blunt outspoken former Cabinet member who publicly raised questions concerning the morality of American interventions overseas. He attacked what he known as the United States’ “sham” democracy, dominated not by the individuals however by the rich few, and he decried the nation’s “genocidal” overseas coverage and “certifiably insane” army spending.
Still, Mr. Clark continued to serve sometimes in official capacities for the federal government. In 1979, at the request of President Jimmy Carter, he tried to barter the discharge of 53 Americans taken hostage in Tehran after the autumn of the U.S.-backed shah in Iran. When he was denied entry into Iran, Mr. Clark flew residence.
Then he returned to Tehran months later to participate in a “Crimes in America” convention that adopted a decision condemning U.S. actions in Iran. Mr. Clark known as the seizure of hostages — who had been, at the time, greater than 200 days into their incarceration — “understandable” however mistaken. He urged the United States to apologize for its wrongdoings in Iran. Carter threatened to prosecute the previous attorney general for violating the U.S. ban on journey to Iran.
“If you really love your country, you work very hard to make it right,” Mr. Clark later informed the Los Angeles Times. “Anything else is an extreme act of disloyalty and an extreme failure of courage.”
Mr. Clark later sued the U.S. authorities for bombing Libya in 1986 in response to a terrorist assault on a Berlin disco. He traveled to Panama after the 1989 American invasion to doc what he stated was the U.S. army’s coverup of a “physical assault of stunning violence,” and he voiced opposition to U.S. battle efforts towards Iraq in 1990 and 2003.
Conservatives got here to detest Mr. Clark, however assist for him additionally started to erode amongst left-leaning activists as he made a behavior of defending a rogues’ gallery of accused terrorists and battle criminals.
“I wish he didn’t do some of these things,” Leslie Cagan, a peace activist, stated of Mr. Clark in a 2005 interview with the New York Observer. “He is one of the few public well-known leftists in this country, and it does make our work harder sometimes.”
His consumer checklist included political extremist Lyndon LaRouche; a number of followers of the Branch Davidian cult chief David Koresh; former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, sentenced to loss of life row for killing a Philadelphia police officer; and Lori Berenson, an American who was imprisoned in Peru for aiding a Marxist revolutionary group.
Mr. Clark additionally defended Slobodan Milosevic, the previous president of former Serbia and Yugoslavia, who died whereas being tried for genocide by a United Nations tribunal at The Hague; Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, a Rwandan pastor who was discovered responsible of engineering a bloodbath of ethnic Tutsis inside his church; and Karl Linnas, an aged former commander of a Nazi focus camp.
“You don’t go after septuagenarians 40 years after some god-awful crime they’re alleged to have committed,” Mr. Clark as soon as stated, talking of Linnas. “If you do, then what it really means is, if we find you, we’ll kill you, so act accordingly. It means that we’re going to be condemned to eternal conflict, which is my great concern. We’ve got to find a way to end wars.”
His most infamous consumer was Saddam, who was accused not solely of orchestrating the genocide of lots of of hundreds of Iraqi Kurds, but additionally of ordering the homicide of 148 boys and males after his motorcade was fired on in 1982 close to the Shiite city of Dujail.
“He had this huge war going on,” Mr. Clark informed the BBC in Saddam’s protection, “and you haMr. Clark called his legal work an extension of his 1960s Justice Department efforts to defend civil rights. “People are guaranteed fairness under the constitution,” he informed the Dallas Morning News in 1996. “And the constitution doesn’t say you only get fair treatment under certain conditions.”ve to behave firmly when you may have an assassination try.”
Those who knew Mr. Clark regarded him with a combine of bafflement, admiration and frustration. He raised severe questions on making certain truthful trials for society’s most untouchable criminals. But he additionally displayed inconsistencies that troubled his fellow pacifists and onetime allies — denouncing genocide, for instance, whereas at the identical time excusing Saddam.
“He lost the opportunity to be a really effective, influential voice on the American left, such as it is, and that was a great loss,” Mr. Clark’s onetime regulation associate, Melvin L. Wulf, informed the New York Times in 1991. “He was and is a total enigma to me, and I don’t think anyone worked with him as closely as I.”
‘The sense of a want to assist’
William Ramsey Clark was born Dec. 18, 1927, in Dallas. He spent his early years in Dallas and Los Angeles earlier than graduating from Washington’s Woodrow Wilson High School in 1945. He then joined the Marine Corps and served as a courier in Europe.
He graduated from the University of Texas in 1949. That identical yr, he married a fellow pupil, Georgia Welch.
They had a daughter born with a number of disabilities, Ronda, whom Mr. Clark credited with giving him “enormous empathy for the poor, the deprived and the handicapped, the sense of a need to help.”
“She’s taught us how ignorant we all are really,” he stated in a 1990 interview with the Los Angeles Times. “We think we know a lot in comparison to her, and then we look around at Beirut, at nuclearism, and 8 million infants who starved last year. Eight million.”
Mr. Clark’s spouse died in 2010. Their son, Thomas C. Clark II, died in 2013. Survivors embody their daughter Ronda Clark, of New York; a sister, Mimi ; and three granddaughters.
Mr. Clark obtained a mixed regulation diploma and grasp’s diploma in historical past from the University of Chicago in December 1950 and spent the following decade working for his household’s Dallas regulation agency. He joined Robert F. Kennedy’s Justice Department in 1961, following his father — who had served as attorney general, underneath Truman — into public service.
As an assistant attorney general within the Public Lands Division (now the Environment and Natural Resources Division), Mr. Clark constructed a popularity as an environment friendly administrator. He additionally had vital roles within the Justice Department’s civil rights battles, together with within the aftermath of riots that broke out when James Meredith, a Black pupil, enrolled at the University of Mississippi in 1962.
He was appointed to the highest Justice Department place in 1967 by Johnson, a fellow Texan and outdated household pal. Mr. Clark’s father resigned from the Supreme Court to keep away from the looks of a battle of curiosity — a transfer that allowed Johnson to burnish his civil rights credentials by filling the emptiness with the excessive court docket’s first African American justice, Thurgood Marshall.
Departing from his father’s politics, the youthful Mr. Clark carved an id as one of the Cabinet’s most left-leaning members. Known within the Justice Department as “the preacher” for his cussed adherence to precept, he was perceived by critics as gentle on crime.
He applied an unofficial moratorium on capital punishment and requested Congress to outlaw it for good. He additionally aggressively restricted federal wiretapping operations and repeatedly refused to authorize FBI wiretaps on civil rights chief Martin Luther King Jr.
After leaving the presidency in 1969, Johnson derided his attorney general’s tendency to “go around preachin’ bleeding-heart stuff” and known as the appointment of Mr. Clark his “biggest mistake.”
“I thought I had appointed Tom Clark’s son,” Johnson as soon as stated. “I was wrong.”
After leaving authorities service in 1969, Mr. Clark joined a prestigious Wall Street regulation agency. He departed quickly afterward, saying he was pissed off by his lack of ability to revolutionize the insurance policies of American firms from inside.
He wrote the bestselling 1970 ebook “Crime in America” concerning the root causes of crime and the failures of the correctional system, and later that decade mounted two unsuccessful campaigns for the U.S. Senate from New York. In the 1974 race towards Republican incumbent Jacob Javits, Mr. Clark restricted his marketing campaign contributions to $100 every and proposed chopping the protection funds by half.
“I went upstate and told hunters I thought we should abolish handguns and license long guns,” he stated. He informed Long Island voters that he wished to shut one of the world’s greatest employers, a producer of army planes.
Surprising observers, he mounted a respectable problem, dropping to Javits by solely six proportion factors.
“Thank God, I didn’t win,” Mr. Clark later stated. “Frankly, I would have been bored.”