International Action Center / Iran / Nazis / Yugoslavia

International Action Center – giving Fascism Progressive Cover | How Ramsey Clark Championed Baltic Nazi War Criminals | Jared Israel and Nico Varkevisser – TENC

Ramsey_CLARK_No war on Iran protest


In 1991, even as Clark was in the process of setting up the supposedly Leftist International Action Center (IAC) he gave an interview to the New York Times in which he again called for “reconciliation” with aging Nazis. As late as 2002 Clark defended another Nazi being deported for having lied on his immigration papers about his past.

— Jared Israel and Nico Varkevisser



How Ramsey Clark Championed
Baltic Nazi War Criminals

…and he’s still doing it.

By Jared Israel and Nico Varkevisser
[Posted 19 June 2003 – Reposted 12 October 2005]



Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark is generally described as a Left wing attorney. He has helped redefine this concept to include taking up the cause of people once considered enemies of the Left: violent antisemites of various varieties.

In this article, we examine the specific case of former Nazi concentration camp boss Karl Linnas. We will show that in 1986  Ramsey Clark chose to make a cause célèbre of Linnas, taking his case to the supreme court. When he lost and Linnas was deported to the Soviet Union, Clark flew to his deathbed in Leningrad. Four years later, Clark used the Linnas case to make a public appeal for “reconciliation” with Nazi war criminals. In making this appeal, Clark outdid perhaps even Reagan administration official Pat Buchanan who was also a big defender of Baltic Nazis.

Clark joined Pat Buchanan and Baltic-American groups in trying to abolish the Office of Special Investigations, or O.S.I. This was the U.S. agency which deported Nazi to their home countries in Eastern Europe, especially the Baltic states. These Nazis had gotten into the U.S. by lying on their immigration papers. The O.S.I. was created for the express purpose of finding such falsifications and deporting the Nazis, thus reversing the previous U.S. policy of giving them safe haven. [1]

What especially infuriated the ultra-right winger Pat Buchanan, and the ultra-right wing Baltic-American groups, was that the O.S.I. cooperated with authorities in the Soviet Union who were trying to bring these Nazis to justice.

Matters came to a head when the O.S.I. tried to deport Karl Linnas, wanted by the Soviets for mass murder in Estonia during World War II.

Ramsey Clark argued against the O.S.I. because, he claimed, hunting Nazi war criminals was wrong on principle:

“‘I oppose the idea of regenerating hatreds and pursuits 40 years after the fact,’ Clark said.” [2]

“Regenerating hatreds”?  Is that what a progressive lawyer calls it when racist murderers are brought to justice? The O.S.I. took the opposite position:

”’The passage of time does not mitigate what they have done, and it doesn’t excuse it,’ said Neal M. Sher, 39, the director of Office of Special Investigations. ”We’re dealing with people who would do it all over again.”’ [2]

In 1991, even as Clark was in the process of setting up the supposedly Leftist International Action Center (IAC) he gave an interview to the New York Times in which he again called for “reconciliation” with aging Nazis.  As late as 2002 Clark defended another Nazi being deported for having lied on his immigration papers about his past.

The full text follows.

— Jared Israel and Nico Varkevisser


Ramsey Clark defines his “calling” by his practice


We of course agree that every person accused of a crime has the right to legal counsel. However, it does not follow that every lawyer is obliged to accept every case. This is especially true of ‘political’ lawyers. Indeed, if one is a political lawyer, and if one publicly declares that representing the vulnerable is one’s calling, then the cases which one chooses define one’s political intent.

In his self-descriptions, Ramsey Clark tries to obscure this point. Explaining why he has represented certain “bad people,” Clark says:

“Are they human beings? Do they need help? Is that your calling? You can’t do it all, but you do what you can.” [3]

This is very dramatic-sounding, but in asking, “Are they human beings,” Clark begs the question: how does he choose which human beings to help? There are thousands of defendants worldwide who could use the assistance of a world famous attorney. How does Clark pick the people for whom he will “do what he can”?

It is precisely because, as Clark says, “you can’t do it all,” that a political attorney defines “his calling” by deciding whom he will represent.

Clark has mixed some cases which, in our view, have real merit (such as the Nicaraguan government’s case against the U.S. in the 1980s) with a snake pit of violent antisemites. By doing so, Clark has communicated his world outlook: that these antisemites are part of the oppressed.

* 1984 *

Clark champions the mass murderer, Karl Linnas, a World War II death camp boss, who emigrated from Estonia to escape Soviet justice. Clark’s arguments inside and outside of court parallel those of the pro-Nazi Right. Clark emotionally attacks the legitimacy of the O.S.I., the Justice Department group trying to deport Nazis to the Soviet Union to face charges of mass murder;

* 1989 *

Clark defends Mahmoud El-Abed Ahmad against extradition to Israel, where he is wanted for allegedly murdering passengers in a bus;

* 1989 *

Clark defends Lyndon LaRouche, the ultra Right wing, anti-Semitic cult leader;

* 1990s *

Clark defends Sheikh Rahman, head of Gama’a al-Islamyya. These are the terrorists who sliced noses and ears off some of the 58 foreign tourists and four Egyptian workers, whom they slaughtered at Luxor in Egypt in 1997. They fought the Soviets in Afghanistan. They fought the Serbs in Bosnia. Both times, they were under covert U.S. direction; [4]

* 1980s-1990s *

Clark defends the PLO against the lawsuit by the family of Leon Klinghoffer, the wheelchair-bound, disabled American Jew, whom PLO terrorists murdered and then tossed, wheelchair and all, into the sea.

* 2002 *

Clark represents Jack Reimer, former Nazi SS guard, accused of playing “a supporting role” during “the liquidation of the Warsaw and Czestochowa ghettoes” in World War II Poland. [5]


The road not taken…


How different Clark’s public persona would be if, like Leftist attorneys of times past, he had concentrated his efforts on championing the poor, or workers injured because of unsafe conditions on the job, or Mexican immigrant farm workers, or big city workers fired for organizing on the job, or tenants mistreated by landlords, or Black victims of racism, or elderly victims of the Managed Care medical system.

Instead of encouraging people to view Nazi concentration camp personnel and the religious gurus of Islamist terrorist groups as the oppressed, he would have engendered concern and respect for the genuine heroes of our social system — working people. Remember them? And in favor of social change. Do you remember social change? At one time the Left talked about social change.

However, it is not just Clark’s choice of cases which communicates a message. Time and again, Clark has made public pronouncements which were unnecessary from the standpoint of legally defending his chosen monsters, statements which parroted the views of said monsters and of their fascist supporters as well. Let us consider one example: Clark’s championing of Karl Linnas in the 1980s and Clark’s use of the Linnas case in an attempt to discredit the O.S.I.


Linnas vs. the O.S.I. — A landmark case, a political battlefield


The Karl Linnas case was important because Linnas was one of the first Nazis whom the Office of Special Investigations, O.S.I., attempted to deport. And he was the first who was wanted for war crimes in the Soviet Union.

Created by Congress in 1979 despite powerful resistance, the O.S.I. had a most important mission: to deport thousands of Nazi war criminals who had been welcomed into the U.S. after World War II:

[Excerpt from Newsday starts here]

These war criminals were beneficiaries of the Displaced Persons Act, a 1948 law that virtually excluded Jews and gave preference to their wartime oppressors, especially those from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Ukraine, sites of some of the most notorious Nazi atrocities. Death-camp guards and collaborators from these areas were welcome — invited, even — to become new Americans as long as they denied being old Nazis. So they did.

Many ended up living in well-established Baltic and Ukrainian communities in and around Chicago and Cleveland. Others settled right here in the New York metropolitan area. Those who lied about their Nazi pasts have, since 1979, been subject to denaturalization and deportation proceedings initiated by the Office of Special Investigations, a branch of the Justice Department created specifically to prosecute Nazis and their collaborators for immigration fraud. [6]

[Excerpt from Newsday ends here]

The O.S.I. pulled no punches in discussing the U.S. policy it was created to reverse. Here is Neal M. Sher, then the director of O.S.I., interviewed by the New York Times in 1987:

‘”I think the number of Nazi criminals who came here after the war is at least 10,000. I would assume they are all still here except for those who have died and those who have been deported. The United States was a haven for Nazi war criminals.'” [7]

These words, honest and blunt, are to us especially surprising to read because we know something about the role which World War II Nazi émigrés played in creating the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. And yet here was a U.S. agency actually saying these Nazi émigrés should be deported! [8]

Moreover, the O.S.I. did something previously taboo: it cooperated with Soviet authorities to hunt down Nazi murderers. This was fiercely attacked by a coalition of forces which not surprisingly included pro-Nazi East European émigré groups and Pat Buchanan, a high official in the Reagan administration. As we shall see, Ramsey Clark also attacked the O.S.I.

The Linnas deportation case became a battleground. It lasted for years, with some “13 or 14 appeals”. [7]

It was a continual focus of attacks from Buchanan and the Baltic-American Right. It was in this context that Clark chose to represent Linnas, convicted of mass murder in the Soviet Union, in his Supreme Court appeal against deportation.

[The excerpt from Newsday starts here]

[…] after a denaturalization proceeding was brought against him in 1979, Linnas was supported by some of O.S.I.’s most vociferous critics. Heading the list was Pat Buchanan who, while serving in the Reagan Administration, repeatedly urged then-Attorney General Ed Meese to quash the O.S.I. action against Linnas.

That denaturalization order was granted in 1981 and upheld by the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in 1986. […]

After finding that Linnas was chief guard at the Tartu concentration camp, a job in which he committed numerous acts of murder, the appeals court showed unmistakable contempt for Linnas’ request that he not be deported back to the USSR for the sake of decency and compassion.

“Noble words such as ‘decency’ and ‘compassion’ ring hollow,” wrote the judge, “when spoken by a man who ordered the extermination of innocent men, women and children kneeling at the edge of a mass grave. Karl Linnas’ appeal to humanity, a humanity which he has grossly, callously and monstrously offended, truly offends this court’s sense of decency.” [6]

[The excerpt from Newsday ends here]

Buchanan and the East European émigré groups went all out in the Linnas case:

“In a syndicated column published this past February, Buchanan called the O.S.I. the ‘dim-witted instrument’ of the Soviet K.G.B. and stated that ‘in its zealotry to punish naturalized Americans who collaborated in the Holocaust, forty years ago,’ the office ‘is relying upon ‘evidence’ produced by the secret police of a neo-Stalinist state.'” [9]

But the O.S.I. refused to back down on the use of Soviet evidence. Here is Eli Rosenbaum, then on leave from the O.S.I., commenting on the Soviet track record regarding Nazi war criminals:

“‘Not once in 40 years has anyone proved a case of Soviet forgery or perjury by a Soviet-supplied witness,’ says former OSI Prosecutor Eli Rosenbaum…'” [10]

And here is then-director of the O.S.I., Neil Sher:

“OSI Director Neil M. Sher has said that in West German war crimes trials, ‘not once to my knowledge’ has a court ‘found that the Soviets supplied forged documents or suborned perjury.'” [11]

U.S. Atty. Rudolph W. Giuliani, who helped prosecute Linnas, said the Soviet evidence was air tight. Giuliani, whom nobody would suggest was pro-Soviet, was interviewed by the Los Angeles Times after Linnas died in a Soviet hospital following his deportation:

“In New York, U.S. Atty. Rudolph W. Giuliani, who argued twice before the federal appeals court in Manhattan to have Linnas deported, had no comment on his death. But he said the record against Linnas contained ‘proof to a certainty that he was a mass murderer and a butcher.'” [12]

Ramsey Clark did not agree about Soviet evidence. Clark’s court arguments eerily echoed Pat Buchanan’s claims that Soviet evidence was intrinsically unreliable:

[Excerpt from LA Times starts here]

In his appeal on behalf of Mr. Linnas, Ramsey Clark, who was Attorney General of the United States from 1967 to 1969, stressed the Government’s collaboration with the Soviet Union in the case and reliance on evidence obtained through Soviet authorities.

”It is unthinkable that a United States court would allow deportation to be used to send a man to his decreed death in a foreign country without due process,” Mr. Clark said in his brief. [12]

[Excerpt from LA Times ends here]

Note the use of the phrases, “without due process” and “decreed death,” mimicking the words of Pat Buchanan. One could defend Clark’s statement, quoted above, on the grounds that this was a legal brief and therefore what Clark wrote did not necessarily reflect his true feelings. We would challenge that. By using this language, Clark was lending his credibility and his media presence to the campaign by Buchanan and the ultra-right Baltic groups to discredit the O.S.I. as the “‘dim-witted instrument’ of the Soviet K.G.B.” Clark is a political lawyer; the Linnas affair was a highly visible political case; and he was using the Supreme Court appeal, which nobody expected him to win, as a bully pulpit to express views strikingly like those of Pat Buchanan.

Clark spoke to the New York Times, again sounding much like Buchanan:

”’I find it remarkable that the Department of Justice, which is part of an Administration that consistently criticizes Soviet justice, would accept evidence that it’s unable to independently examine in a real sense,’ said Mr. Clark.” [2]

And Clark continued to speak out publicly, opposing the O.S.I. long after the Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal, indeed, several years after Linnas died.

Since both Pat Buchanan and Ramsey Clark argued in favor of abolishing the O.S.I., it is informative to compare what they said. As we shall see, Buchanan attacked the O.S.I. straightforwardly and politically, with no tricky sub-text. Clark usually made sneak attacks, relying on emotional manipulation.

First, Buchanan:

“In 1982, appearing on the Washington television talk show After Hours, Buchanan called for the O.S.I.’s abolition and asked what the purpose was of ‘going after people who are about 70 years old now’ and whose crimes were committed ‘thirty-five, forty-five years ago.’ [9]

Now here’s Clark.


Ramsey calls for “reconciliation”


On June 14, 1991, the New York Times published a sympathetic article about Clark called, “The Long and Lonely Journey of Ramsey Clark”. In it, they quoted him as follows concerning the O.S.I.’s campaign against Nazi illegal immigrants:

“‘There comes a time after the most horrible acts when the possibility of reconciliation outweighs any possible need for retribution or to maintain the integrity of the law,’ he said. ‘If you take a man who’s senile, who’s on his deathbed, and you can hear the rattle, and you have to rush to strangle him before he dies, then there’s no hope for reconciliation.'” [13]

Let us note, for the record, that in 1987, as the “senile” Mr. Linnas was taken to the airport for deportation, this Nazi managed to shout quite coherently:

[Associated Press quote starts here]

Linnas accused the United States of murder as he was put aboard the Czechoslovak Airlines flight at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

“What they are doing right now is murder and kidnapping,” the retired surveyor shouted as he was led into a police office at the New York airport. [14]

[Associated Press quote ends here]

Note that in contrast to Mr. Buchanan, who at least has the virtue of being straightforward, Mr. Clark never speaks to the point but relies on emotional manipulation. He calls for an end to retribution against Nazi war criminals in the interest of some “possibility of reconciliation.” But what does he mean? With whom are we to reconcile? Or are we to encourage reconciliation between some groups? What groups? Does he mean that the survivors of Nazi butchery should be reconciled with Nazi butchers? Let bygones be bygones? Forgive and forget?

Apparently that is exactly what Ramsey Clark means. In plain English, he is an apologist for Nazi war criminals. Frankly Clark’s attempt to seduce us by appealing to our sense of compassion makes him all the worse.

Former Attorney General Clark goes so far as to proclaim that the need for reconciliation “outweighs any possible need…to maintain the integrity of the law”!

For whom should we override the “integrity of the law”? For the Nazi butchers. But why should we override the law even though, by Clark’s own admission, these people have committed “the most horrible acts”? Because they have been punished? But they have not been punished. Because they are truly sorry? But Clark does not claim they are sorry. Then why? Because, Clark explains, they have…grown old.

They have grown old.

Our government welcomed these monsters during the 1940s and 1950s. They were allowed to escape justice in the U.S., to live, to prosper, and so now they have grown old and we should let them live in peace. After all, monsters are human too; they have needs; and so, as Mr. Clark says, “you do what you can.”

People claim that Clark was a progressive U.S. Attorney General and that he became more progressive after leaving office. It is noteworthy that while Clark, the false progressive, did everything he could to protect Karl Linnas, the true Nazi butcher, it was Reagan’s Attorney General, Ed Meese, the notorious Ed Meese of Iran-Contra fame, who deported Karl Linnas to the Soviet Union.

We do not raise this point because of what it says about Attorney General Ed Meese, who was under great pressure to deport Linnas. Rather, we raise this point because of what it says about Attorney General Ramsey Clark.

And remember, Clark gave this interview, calling for reconciliation with Nazi war criminals, in June of 1991. At that time he was already in the process of forming the International Action Center.


A touching farewell


After Karl Linnas was deported to the Soviet Union, he got sick. The Soviets gave him the best medical treatment available because, of course, the last thing they wanted was for him to die in a Leningrad hospital. Nevertheless he died in a Leningrad hospital.

The last two visitors whom Linnas saw before he died were his daughter and Ramsey Clark; the two of them flew to the monster’s bedside. Clark’s presence served the political purpose of calling attention to Linnas’ death, thereby lending seeming credence to Clark’s argument that the O.S.I. was heartlessly persecuting poor, old, decrepit mass murderers.

Just before he died, we are told, Karl Linnas gave his daughter and Ramsey Clark the thumbs-up sign. Which means: keep up the good work. [15]

Jared Israel and Nico Varkevisser


[Footnotes and Further Reading Follow The Appeal]


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Footnotes and Further Reading


[1] Simpson, Christopher 1988. Blowback: America’s recruitment of Nazis and its effects on the Cold War. New York: Weidenfeld & Nicholson.

[2] The New York Times; March 3, 1987, Tuesday, Late City Final Edition; Section: Section A; Page 20, Column 3; National Desk; Length: 1142 Words; Headline: Washington Talk: Justice Department; Lobbying The Office That Hunts Nazi Suspects; Byline: By Kenneth B. Noble, Special To The New York Times; Dateline: Washington, March 2

[3] From transcript of Clark’s appearance before National Press Club. Quoted in, “Ramsey Clark Poses as Milosevic’s Lawyer…and then smears the ‘client’ on nationwide U.S. television!” at

[4] For articles dealing with U.S.-backed Islamist terrorism in Afghanistan, please see:

For Bosnia, see “U.S. & Iran: Enemies in Public, but Secret Allies in Terror,” at

[5] Los Angeles Times; September 6, 2002 Friday Home Edition; Section: Main News; Part 1; Page 22; National Desk; Headline: The Nation; Judge Rules Retiree, 83, Was Nazi Guard; WWII: Man faces deportation after being found to have participated in atrocities; 562 words.

Ethnic NewsWatch; The Jewish Week (New York); September 13, 2002; Section: Vol. 215; No. 16; Pg. 5; SLI-ACC-NO: 1002W2DR 061 000048; Headline: Followup: SS Guard Must Leave U.S.;
By: Lipman, Steve; 616 words

[6] Newsday (New York) February 23, 1995, Thursday, All Editions Section: Part II; The Nazis Among Us; Pg. B04; Length: 1759 Words Headline: Nowhere To Run; For some of the more notorious war criminals living there, post-war life had been sweet and secure — until a recently discovered ‘treasure trove of evidentiary riches’ ripped away their cover. Series: The Nazis Among Us; Byline: David Friedman. Staff Writer

[7] The New York Times, April 26, 1987, Sunday, Late City Final Edition Section: Section 4; Page 2, Column 1; Week In Review Desk Length: 1114 Words Headline: The World: Q. & A.

[8] See, “U.S. Intelligence was Formed from Nazi War Criminals
Part 1: Primed not to hear,” at
“Part 2: In 1983 U.S. Intelligence Took Charge of Investigating the Recruitment of Nazis by…U.S. Intelligence,” at

[9] The Nation, May 4, 1985 Section: Vol. 240 ; Pg. 525; Issn: 0027-8378; Length: 983 Words; Headline: Pat Buchanan And The Emigre Nazis; Byline: Lagnado, Lucette

[10] Time Magazine, April 20, 1987, U.S. Edition Section: Ethics; Pg. 60 Length: 978 Words; Headline: Problems Of Crime And Punishment; Should The U.S. Use Soviet Evidence Against Accused War Criminals?; Byline: By Richard Lacayo. Reported By Anne Constable/Washington And Jeanne Mcdowell/New York

[11] The Washington Post; July 13, 1986, Sunday, Final Edition
Section: First Section; A5; Length: 1017 Words; Headline: U.S. Nazi Hunters Brace For Criticism; Doubts About Soviet Evidence Surround Move To Deport Linnas; Byline: By Jay Mathews, Washington Post Staff Writer

[12] Los Angeles Times; July 3, 1987, Friday, Home Edition; Section: Part 1; Page 5; Column 1; Foreign Desk; Length: 772 Words; Headline: Deported War Criminal Dies In Soviet Hospital; Byline: By William J. Eaton, Times Staff Writer; Dateline: Moscow

[13] The New York Times; June 14, 1991, Friday, Late Edition – Final; Name: Tom C. Clark; Section: Section B; Page 9; Column 1; National Desk; Law Page; Length: 1635 Words; Headline: The Long And Lonely Journey Of Ramsey Clark

[14] The Associated Press; April 21, 1987, Tuesday, PM cycle; Section: International News; Length: 729 Words; Headline: Karl Linnas Headed To Soviet Estonia; Dateline: Moscow

[15] The New York Times; July 5, 1987, Sunday, Late City Final Edition; Section: Section 1; Part 1, Page 18, Column 5; Foreign Desk; Length: 264 Words


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