From left to right: Dennis Banks, Fidel Castro, Alice Walker, Ramsey Clark, Havana, April 1993. (Credit Gloria La Riva)
Ramsey Clark towers above—and defies—the dichotomy that says: radicals over there, government apparatchiks over here. He was always gracious, attentive, soft spoken, firm, willing to listen, capable of standing his ground. We did two short books together, Acts of Aggression, with Edward Said and Noam Chomsky, and The Torturer in the Mirror, with Haifa Zangana and Thomas Reifer. In these books, as in everything Ramsey did, his inner compass was true, unerring. For Ramsey, I don’t think there was such a great difference between being the US Attorney General and being an outside agitator, it was merely a circumstantial shift: he was the same in either guise. It is telling that in Aaron Sorkin’s almost excessively efficient re-telling of the Chicago 7 trial, Sorkin takes time for Ramsey to make a cameo appearance, in which he displays not even a moment’s hesitation before stating that he will testify as our nation’s former attorney general on behalf of the accused. —Dan Simon
“The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty, but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing.”
“. . .The problem as Lincoln surely knew is not merely one of definitions. It is a problem of power, will and accountability. The United States intends to have its way and serve its own interests, with Iraq, Cuba, Libya, Iran, the Sudan and many other countries, whatever the consequences to the liberties and rights of those who live there. . . It is imperative that clear definitions of all fundamental rights of people be clearly inscribed in international law, including economic rights which are most basic to human need and on which all other rights are dependent, and rights to freedom from military aggression by a superpower or its surrogates.”
—from “On the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” by Ramsey Clark in Acts of Aggression
Before the US invasion of Iraq, before the American public saw the infamous photos from Abu Ghraib, the CIA went to the White House with a question: What, according to the Constitution, was the line separating interrogation from torture—and could that line be moved? The White House lawyers' answer—in the form of legal documents later known as the "Torture Memos" —became the US's justification for engaging in torture.
The Torturer in the Mirror shows us how when one of us tortures, we are all implicated in the crime. In three uncompromising essays, Iraqi dissident Haifa Zangana, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, and professor of sociology Thomas Ehrlich Reifer teach us how physically and psychologically insidious torture is, how deep a mark it leaves on both its victims and its practitioners, and how necessary it is for us as a society to hold torturers accountable.
In Acts of Aggression three distinguished activist scholars—Edward Said, Noam Chomsky, and Ramsey Clark—examine the background and ramifications of the U.S. conflict with Iraq. Through three separate essays, the pamphlet provides an in-depth analysis of U.S./Arab relations, the contradictions and consequences of U.S. foreign policy toward "rogue states," and how hostile American actions abroad conflict with UN resolutions and international law.