This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, November 7, 2016:
As Janet Reno formally ended her public career following her failure to win a primary for governor of Florida in 2002, she quoted George Washington about her legacy: “If I were to write all that down I might be reduced to tears. I would prefer to drift on down the stream of life and let history make the judgment.”
Her stream of life ended on Monday at age 78 when she passed away following complications from Parkinson’s disease. History will remember her for one thing: ordering the FBI to end the siege at Mount Carmel — the home of the Branch Davidians headed up by David Koresh — near Waco, Texas, by force, using tear gas and gunfire to end it, along with the lives of nearly 80 individuals including 25 children.
Clinton nominated her for the position after two other women withdrew their acceptances, and she became attorney general in March, 1993. She was immediately thrust into the middle of the FBI’s siege against the Branch Davidian compound that began after ATF agents were involved in a shootout while trying to serve arrest warrants on Koresh and his followers for alleged firearms violations. After 51 days, the FBI asked for permission to attack the compound and end the siege. Reno granted it, 76 people died, and the event has remained a black mark not only on her legacy but on the history of federal law enforcement ever since.
Following the atrocity, Reno appointed former Senator John Danforth to look into charges that FBI agents started the fires, fired randomly into the building, and illegally used military forces to end the siege. When Danforth’s report exonerated the government and Reno, Koresh’s attorney called it a “whitewash” while former AG Ramsey Clark added, “History will clearly record, I believe, that these assaults on the Mt. Carmel church center remain the greatest domestic law enforcement tragedy in the history of the United States.”
For her part, and to her credit claim some of her supporters, Reno took full responsibility for allowing the FBI to end the siege with prejudice: “I made the decision. I’m accountable. The buck stops with me.”
Over the following eight years, Reno was involved in other controversies: