The death of Janet Reno, Bill Clinton’s Attorney General, of complications of Parkinson’s disease serves as a bitter reminder of two of the greatest atrocities of the 1990s, the military assault on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas in 1993 and the kidnapping of Elian Gonzalez from his family in Miami and his taking back into bondage in Cuba. The latter act likely turned the Florida Cuban vote against Al Gore and handed the presidency to George W. Bush in 2000.

Reno ordered the assault against the Branch Davidian compound after a 51 day standoff after a failed raid by ATF agents attempting to make arrests for alleged weapons violations.

The assault resulted in the deaths of 80 members of the cult, including children. Reno accepted responsibility for the slaughter, but did not resign from her office.

Fast forward seven years later and the way Reno dealt with the matter of Elian Gonzalez, a six year old boy who was the only survivor of a group of refugees who attempted to cross from Communist Cuba by boat to Florida. While Gonzalez was safe in the care of Miami relatives, the Cuban government and his father demanded his return. After a long standoff, Reno decided to comply with Cuban demands and sent armed federal agents to snatch the boy from the arms of his relatives and arrange to have him carried off into bondage in Cuba.

She handed the Castro government a propaganda victory. Elian Gonzalez remains a hero of the Cuban Communist state to this day.

Reno’s tendency to resort to brute force when the federal government became embroiled in high profile disputes with American citizens was a feature of her tenure and perhaps a foreshadowing of things to come if Hillary Clinton becomes president.

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She represented an authoritarian style of governance that relied on using the force of the government rather than arbitration in the courts to prevail, both in the cases of the Branch Davidians and Elian Gonzalez. Her incompetence caused blood, tears, and a decline in the respect of the rule of law.