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 'Act')."
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 related materials.
"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?
"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 law."
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 address.
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:
borrow from the aforementioned Congressman James Traficant, who borrowed
it from William Shatner's 'Star Trek' incarnation -- "Beam me up!"