A pair of conservative groups plan to hold protests and wage a “counter-information campaign” against former Attorney General Janet Reno during her visit to a Texas university later this week.
Reno – who headed up the Justice Department for most of embattled President Bill Clinton’s two terms – is scheduled to speak Sept. 13 at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, at an event known as the “President’s Forum.” The former attorney general “will address the importance of public service, as well as share some reflections on the 1993 Branch Davidian standoff near Waco, during ‘An Evening with Janet Reno,’” said Baylor.
“The purpose of the Baylor President’s Forum is to bring to campus nationally and internationally recognized leaders who promote dialogue about, and greater understanding of, important issues facing our nation and world,” the university said. “The audience is composed of students, faculty and staff, and members of the Central Texas community.”
Shortly after Reno took office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms conducted a deadly raid on the Branch Davidian complex near Waco, sparking a 53-day standoff that eventually resulted in the deaths of more than 80 men, women and children after the complex caught fire and burned.
Critics of Reno said her response in ordering the final raid was too heavy-handed and have blamed her directly for the deaths.
The two groups – the Young Conservatives of Texas and the Citizens Organization for Public Safety – plan to make those points during Reno’s visit. Both are planning to hold a “teach-in” at the Kaiser Auditorium in the Hankamer Business School at Baylor that will include the showing of a documentary that discusses new evidence.
The film – “Waco: A New Revelation” – explains why Waco-related evidence gathered and stored in government evidence lockers is significant.
“Upon examination, the evidence gathered under the supervision of federal officials appeared to contradict the FBI’s congressional testimony, raising serious and disturbing questions about events surrounding the siege at Mt. Carmel and the deaths of the Branch Davidians,” said the film’s producer, Mike McNulty – who told WND he will help stage anti-Reno events at Baylor.
That documentary will be followed by a question and answer session and the screening of McNulty’s short film “The F.L.I.R. Project,” which focuses on whether government agents fired on Branch Davidians as they tried to leave the compound, a group press release said.
The event will take place on Sept. 12, the day before Reno’s speech.
Among those appearing at the teach-in will be McNulty, surviving Branch Davidians and retired Texas Ranger Captain David Burns, who conducted the Texas Rangers’ Waco investigation, said the Texas Young Conservatives.
A protest outside the university’s Ferrell Center is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. the evening Reno is scheduled to speak, a group spokesman said.
“While Reno may hope to gain politically from using this lecture as an attempt to put behind her the tragic and deadly 1993 raid she ordered, we will not let the truth be a casualty of Ms. Reno’s political ambition,” McNulty said. “That is why the Citizens Organization for Public Safety and the Young Conservatives of Texas have joined together in an educational campaign to bear witness and make sure that history is not rewritten.”
“We are holding this teach-in to share our understanding of the truth of these tragic events. Our hope is that, after this presentation, people will be able to ask intelligent questions of Ms. Reno on the following night,” he added. “Therefore, we invite all of those interested in the history of the Waco tragedy and Ms. Reno’s role in it to attend the teach-in.”
“The Waco tragedy stands as one of the most outrageous law enforcement abuses in American history and we hope Ms. Reno will finally answer for it,” said YCT State Chairman Chris Allen. “Many Americans forget that most of the Branch Davidians were not guilty of any crimes and were simply exercising their constitutional right to bear arms.”
“The Davidians never hurt anyone else or even threatened to do so, and government allegations of child abuse inside the compound were never proven. We are using Reno’s lecture as an opportunity to inform the Baylor community about such facts,” Allen said.
YCT says it is a “non-partisan, statewide organization composed of college students and senior advisers committed to limited government and traditional values.” It claims chapters at Baylor University, the University of Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.
Last week, Reno announced her intention to run against Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in the 2002 election, instantly making her the most likely Democratic candidate for the gubernatorial race next year.