When I first received this memo from the office of the White House
Press Secretary, I thought it was an Internet hoax. It strains
credulity that even this corrupt administration — which has made a
policy out of abuse of power under the color of authority — could be so
arrogant, so myopic, so dumb as to do what is being announced.
Attorney General Janet Reno, the “Butcher of Waco,” is being handed
direct responsibility for a key “domestic preparedness” role normally
and previously under the purview of the Secretary of Defense. Is this
the epitome of executive arrogance? Public opinion myopia? Or
Executive Branch collective brain flatulence?
No, this is not a drug-induced fantasy of the vast right wing
conspiracy, or a pilot for a made for TV movie. It is the word from the
Office of the White House Press Secretary dated April 7, 2000, “For
Immediate Release.” The subject line reads, “SUBJECT: Designation of
the Attorney General as the Lead Official for the Emergency Response
Assistance Program Under Sections 1412 and 1415 of the National Defense
Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997 (Public Law 104-201) (the
Janet Reno as the “Lead Official for Emergency Response Assistance”?
Can the Lon Horiuchi Emergency Response Team be far behind?
The memo states, “Under sections 1412(a) and 1415(a) of the Act, the
Secretary of Defense is responsible for implementing the Emergency
Response Assistance Program, commonly known as the “Domestic
Preparedness Program,” to provide civilian personnel of Federal, State,
and local agencies with training and expert advice regarding emergency
responses to a use or threatened use of a weapon of mass destruction or
related materials, and for testing and improving the responses of such
agencies to emergencies involving chemical or biological weapons and
“Under the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of
the United States, including sections 1412(a)(2) and 1415(d)(1) of the
Act, I designate the Attorney General to replace the Secretary of
Defense as the lead Federal official with responsibility for carrying
out these programs.
“These designations are effective October 1, 2000.”
I tried to play devil’s advocate to come up with “some”
rationalization for what is destined to be a tragic assignment. Why on
earth would this beleaguered, scandal ridden, investigated-ad-nauseam
administration make such an announcement? Why now? Why Reno? Why the
October effective date?
- Maybe it is an effort to re-structure resources for
anticipated domestic terrorism? Are we not continually cautioned and
warned about potential terrorist threats (“real or promulgated”)?
- Maybe in the wake of the tragedy and long list of “lessons
learned” from the Waco debacle it is an effort to insulate public
opinion from concerns over violation of Posse Comitatus?
- Maybe it is in preparation for a more clearly divided
civil/military police presence?
- Maybe it is an administration show of support for an incompetent
cabinet member who has proved her worth as a dedicated and loyal
sycophant prepared to do whatever is needed to protect her masters?
- Maybe the October effective date is to position Reno for
“controlling” potential civil disturbances prior to the November
elections as only she has demonstrated she can do?
- Or, maybe it really is prelude to the rumored federal police
authority, which will implement a Clinton flavor of martial law under
the fiction of police rather than military control?
The Washington Post has just recently reported, “Attorney
General Janet Reno and other senior Clinton administration officials
have devised a plan to use force to remove Elian Gonzalez from the home
of his Miami relatives unless they agree to cooperate in turning the boy
over to authorities and his father.” So what has the Waco Wonderwoman
“Rather than approaching the house by night, senior Justice
Department officials have decided, if necessary, to send a team of
federal marshals and immigration officers to take custody of the
youngster in daylight. They anticipate resistance from a human chain of
anti-Castro protesters.” But hey, Reno’s Raiders had resistance from
the Branch Davidians and they enjoyed (briefly) a superior tactical
position. The Post writes, “While they prefer a peaceful resolution of
the matter after weeks of negotiations, Attorney General Janet Reno and
Deputy Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.” — well, there is a pair to
beat a full house — “now are prepared for the potentially ugly
spectacle of televised conflict with protesters in Miami to uphold the
Reno has a long history of abuse of power, dereliction, malfeasance
and has elevated the practice of cover-up to a near art form. From her
alleged involvement in voter fraud in Dade County, Fla., to the Jack
Thompson allegations about her drunk driving, purulent indiscretions and
cover-up episodes in Florida, to the more recent Waco disaster and
litany of interference running for assorted Clinton administration
scandal targets Janet is in a class by herself (arguably because no
one else would want to be there).
Reno’s performance of her duties have been so reprehensible that even
a Democrat, Rep. James Traficant, has proposed the creation of a new
government entity specifically to police the assorted scandals the Reno
Department of Justice has refused to
According to the WorldNetDaily story by Jon Dougherty, “The new agency
would have the same investigative and prosecutorial authority as do
current Justice Department attorneys, investors and agents and most
importantly, Traficant said, the bill would allow the agency to
prosecute cases in federal court.”
Cool. But wait a minute. Why the hell do we need to create an
entire new federal bureaucracy to correct problems in an already long
established entity just because the attorney general is an incompetent
quisling for the guy who appointed her? The Traficant bill seems
burdened with a gaggle of problems that already contribute to the
problem he proposes to correct. Rather than re-invent the wheel, the
easiest solution to the obvious problems in the Reno (in)Justice
Department is to eliminate the problem. Get rid of Reno!
It reminds me of the old joke about the guy who goes to the doctor
and says “Doctor, it hurts when I go like this. …” The doctor looked
at the man and says, “So, don’t go like that. That will be $50.”
Notwithstanding partisan rancor or visceral contempt for Reno, Janet
has failed miserably in her responsibilities, although exceeding the
most optimistic expectation of protecting the boss.
Consider a short and incomplete list of Reno’s performance:
- Vince Foster death
- Webster Hubbell
- Jim McDougal
- Oklahoma City Bombing
- Travel Office firings
- White House database
- Ron Brown
- Alexis Herman
- Federico Pena
- Freeh/LaBella memos
The mismanagement of any one of the above could have been cause
for the dismissal or resignation of any other attorney general.
However, not only does Janet hang in there, now the president has gifted
her with an additional responsibility previously assigned to the
Secretary of Defense?
To borrow from the aforementioned Congressman James Traficant, who
borrowed it from William Shatner’s ‘Star Trek’ incarnation — “Beam me