“Lawyers You’ll Like” Series: Ramsey Clark
Ramsey Clark, former Attorney General of the United States, under President Lyndon B. Johnson. The first Attorney General at the Justice Department to call for the elimination of the death penalty and all electronic surveillance. After he left the Johnson administration, he became a vociferous critic of the Vietnam War and continued on a radical path, defending the underdog, defending the rights of people worldwide, from Palestinians to Iraqis, to anyone who found themselves at the repressive end of government action.
During his years at the Justice Department:
- supervised the federal presence at Ole Miss during the week following the admission of James Meredith;
- surveyed all school districts in the South desegregating under court order (1963);
- supervised federal enforcement of the court order protecting the march from Selma to Montgomery; and
- headed the Presidential task force to Watts following the riots.
- supervised the drafting and executive role in passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Civil Rights Act of 1968.
Today we hear excerpts from the second part of the event An Innocent Man In Guantanamo: Five Years of My Life. Thatâ€™s the title of the memoirs recently released by Murat Kurnaz who was detained at Guantanamo for five years. Kurnaz is a Turkish citizen and legal resident of Germany, he traveled to Pakistan to learn more about his Muslim faith and was later arrested at a checkpoint, handed to the United States and eventually taken to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. We hear part 1 of a 3 part series from this discussion.
The event presented by Friends of the Library, brought together a panel of lawyers from the U.S. and Germany who fought for Muratâ€™s release and a Guantanamo chaplain who was accused of espionage and imprisoned. The panel was moderated by our own Michael Ratner. Speakers include:
- Baher Azmy – Professor at Seton Hall Law School, where he directs a civil rights clinic and teaches constitutional law. His litigation work on national security and human rights cases emerging from the â€œwar on terrorâ€ include lawfulness of extraordinary rendition, torture and indefinite executive detention. In July 2004, Azmy began representation of Murat Kurnaz imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay until his release in August 2006.
- Bernhard Docke – a lawyer since 1983, specializes in criminal law, since 1989 partner of the law firm â€œDr. Heinrich Hannover und Partnerâ€ in Bremen, Germany. He has been a lawyer for Mr. Kurnaz since 2002.
- Wallace Shawn – an Obie-winning playwright and a stage and screen actor. His plays include The Designated Mourner, Marie and Bruce, The Fever, and Aunt Dan and Lemon. He co-wrote and starred in the art-house classic My Dinner with Andre and he also performed in numerous Woody Allen films including Manhattan and Radio Days. Our Late Night and a Thought in Three Parts: Two Plays will be published in Spring 2008.
- James Yee – the former US Army Muslim Chaplain of Guantanamo Bay. His book, For God And Country, Faith and Patriotism Under Fire, tells the story about being wrongly accused of espionage and imprisoned by the U.S. military. In 2004, the government dropped all charges against him and he received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army.
- Phillipe Sands – an international lawyer and a professor of law at University College London. He is the author of Lawless World and is frequently a commentator on news and current affairs programs including CNN, MSNBC and BBC World Service. Sands has been involved in many international cases, including the World Court trial of Slobodan Milosevic and the treatment of British detainees at Guantanamo Bay. His article in Vanity Fair â€œThe Green Light,â€ looks at how high level members of the Bush administration pressured underlings to use torture tactics at Guantanamo. He is also the author of Torture Team: Rumsfeldâ€™s Memo and the Betrayal of American Values.