By Douglas V. Gibbs
Former U.S. Attorney Genral Janet Reno died during the morning hours of November 7, 2016. She was 78. The cause is being attributed to complications from Parkinson’s disease, of which she was diagnosed with in 1995, while she was still attorney general.
She was the one that, as Clinton's attorney general, gave the go-ahead for federal agents to storm the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas with tear gas, after, she later said, she was convinced that children were being abused inside. During the raid, a fire broke out and engulfed the compound, killing all 80 or so people inside. Reno on television took full blame.
“I made the decision,” Ms. Reno said. “I’m accountable. The buck stops with me.”
She later stood her ground during a House Judiciary Committee hearing, when Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) told her she was right to offer her resignation, saying, “I’d like you to know that there is at least one member of Congress that isn’t going to rationalize the death of two dozen children.”
“I haven’t tried to rationalize the death of children, Congressman,” she responded, glaring, her voice quavering. “I feel more strongly about it than you will ever know. But I have neither tried to rationalize the death of four agents, and I will not walk away from a compound where ATF agents had been killed by people who knew they were agents and leave them unsurrounded. . . . Most of all, Congressman, I will not engage in recrimination.”
Reno's critics held on to Waco for the remainder of her time in Washington, calling he incident evidence of the deadly misuse of federal force. Timothy McVeigh, responsible for the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, which killed 168 people and injured scores more, reportedly saw Waco as inspiration for his terrorism.
Then, there was the case of Elian Gonzalez, a young Cuban refugee whose mother had drowned and died on the way to America. He was with relatives in Miami who refused to return the child to his father, who wanted to take him back to Cuba. The early 2000 saga saw the Miami Cuban expatriate community demanding that the boy be allowed to stay in the United States. A federal judge ordered they return the boy to his father. Ms. Reno flew to Florida herself to resolve the situation. The Miami family members ignored Ms. Reno’s deadline for them to comply with the judge’s order, so she authorized federal agents to enter their home and seize the 6-year-old. A photo of a SWAT-equipped border-patrol agent appearing to point a gun at the young Gonzales in a closet became a much-reproduced image that we still see circulating the internet today as an example of the unfeeling force of an authoritarian federal government.
After stepping down from the attorney general’s office in 2001, Ms. Reno returned to Florida and the next year ran for governor. The Democrat Party did not put their support behind her, and she lost the nomination. The Democrat that beat her, Bill McBride, wound up losing to Jeb Bush, the son of George Herbert Walker Bush and the brother of George W. Bush.
– Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary