When former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark joined the team of Jordan-based lawyers defending Saddam Hussein, he said his principal concern was protecting the rights of the former Iraqi leader.
Clark, a controversial figure, flew into Baghdad on the eve of the trial
Mr Clark, who held office in the 1960s under President Lyndon B Johnson, has a reputation for fierce opposition to US foreign policy dating back to the Vietnam War.
He has described the special tribunal established in Baghdad to try members of the former government as a creation of the US military occupation and argues it has no authority in law as a criminal court.
Some of the political elite back in Washington have questioned the judgment of Mr Clark, now aged 77.
After leaving office in 1969, he became active in the anti-Vietnam War movement, since when he has also offered legal advice to numerous figures at odds with the US government including former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and former Liberian leader Charles Taylor.
Mr Clark was born in Dallas, Texas, in 1927, to a wealthy family of lawyers. His father, Tom C. Clark, was attorney general in the 1940s.
Ramsey Clark served in the US Marine Corps in 1945 and 1946, before going on to study law at the University of Chicago Law School.
From 1967-69, he served as attorney general. He also supervised the drafting and passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the 1968 Civil Rights Act.
Mr Clark visited Saddam Hussein in Baghdad in February 2003, just before the US-led invasion.
As a member of the ex-leader's defence team, he says he wants a fair trial in order to establish "historical truth".
"It is absolutely essential that the court is legal in its constitution," he told Reuters news agency.
"A court cannot be a court unless it is absolutely independent of all external pressures and forces."
Henry Kissinger, the former US secretary of state, said Mr Clark should "ask himself the appropriateness of a former American attorney general appearing as a defence lawyer [for Saddam]".
"I could have imagined a better combination," he added, speaking to CNN television.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former US national security adviser under President Jimmy Carter, said he did not object to Mr Clark defending the former Iraqi leader but: "If he's going there to
grandstand, then I think it's somewhat embarrassing."