Letter: Waco deaths cannot be blamed on Reno

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The Independent Online
Sir: As an American resident of London who respects your newspaper for its normally balanced and responsible reporting, I was amazed by the statement in your leading article 'Waco: the cost of bungling' (21 April) that the US Attorney General, Janet Reno, had 'lost the authority to remain at her post' because of the events which led to the death of children in the fire that engulfed the Koresh compound.

The FBI and other US government agencies that were involved appear to have exercised tremendous patience and restraint in seeking to achieve a peaceful conclusion to the stand-off in Waco. Tens of millions of taxpayers' dollars were consumed in catering to the whims of a maniacal demagogue and his band of followers, who appear to have had no other objective than to flout openly the laws of the land. Clearly the time had come to put a stop to this farcical episode.

All reports from the scene would indicate that President Bill Clinton was absolutely correct when he attributed the death of Mr Koresh's followers to their spiritual leader. Although the death of children in these circumstances was indeed a lamentable event, it is illogical to suggest, as you have, that the authorities should have run the more overt risk of further death and injury not only to law enforcement officers, but also to Mr Koresh's followers, by staging a surprise attack in an attempt to rescue the children.

I cannot see that there is any reasonable basis for linking the future of the US Justice Department or the career of an accomplished professional such as Ms Reno to the irrational actions of a demented individual such as Mr Koresh. Such a position would be deeply detrimental to the national interest, and I believe that it would have little popular support among the American public. As the Texas Governor, Ann Richards, has stated, now is the time for healing to begin.

Yours faithfully,

MARK OGDEN

London, W8

21 April

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