Thursday, April 19, 2018

From 1999: The Other House on Garibaldi Street

Some pieces age better than others. Unfortunately, the evil-doer featured in this one -- originally published in 1999 at the now-defunct SpinTech web zine -- died of natural causes before she could be brought to justice. And it was written before I went full-on anarchist, when I still had some misplaced faith in the possibility of "reforming the system." But, seeing as how it's the 25th anniversary of the Waco massacre (and, to the minute, the time the first flames became visible from outside), I'm still going to re-post it. Enjoy.

The Other House on Garibaldi Street

The Israeli government took sixteen years to track down Adolph Eichman at the little house in Buenos Aires where he had retired from a long and productive career of burning, gassing and machine-gunning Jews. How long will it take us to put U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno behind bars where she belongs?

Six years after the literal holocaust at Waco, Reno remains at large. When Hezbollah or Hammas claim responsibility for an act of terrorism, our officials piously vow to track them down and exact retribution, whatever the cost. When one of those same officials claims responsibility for the fiery deaths of 80 people, including twice as many children as Dylan Harris and Eric Klebold murdered at Columbine High School, she goes on to become the longest-serving Attorney General in the history of our nation.

But the times, they are-a-changin'.

In July, after documentary researcher Michael McNulty (a producer of the Oscar-nominated Waco: The Rules of Engagement) received permission to examine the evidence gathered by the Texas rangers in the wake of the conflagration, four incendiary devices -- commonly referred to as "flash-bangs" -- surfaced. They had originally been misidentified as homemade silencers, presumably in order to substantiate the ATF's oft-stated (and, as yet, wholly unproved) claims that the Branch Davidians were stockpiling "illegal" armaments. What's more, the evidence mapping reveals that these devices were recovered from the parts of the Mount Carmel building where the fatal fires started.

Naturally, Reno denied any knowledge of the incendiaries and continued attempting to shove the responsibility that she originally claimed off onto her victims, who, being dead, can't answer. But her case was horribly weak to begin with: it's hard to establish to the satisfaction of any neutral panel that cutting off the power to a building, waiting until the tenants resort to kerosene lamps for lighting, then assaulting the building with tanks and pumping flammable gas into the place doesn't constitute an attempt at murder. Especially when your own cameras show your own people herding the victims back into the fire with the aid of automatic weapons. Especially when many of the victims are women and children. And, most especially, when the whole mess is the result of an unprovoked attack by your own people.

"Flash-bangs" are designed to stun and immobilize their targets. Being trapped in a burning building does not combine well with having one detonated next to you. Furthermore, the primer charges in the devices are known to start fires in small, enclosed spaces. Spaces like the rooms at Mount Carmel, where kerosene lamps were tumbling over and spilling as the tanks rammed the walls. There, the atmosphere was full of CS, a "riot agent" that produces potassium cyanide when ignited, suspended in a flammable delivery solution.

As I write this, the FBI has finally admitted to using incendiaries on the morning of the fatal fire. Reno is back-pedaling for all she's worth, announcing a new investigation into the siege and how it ended. One wonders if the "lost" evidence from the first Congressional hearings into the matter -- things like the ATF's videotape of the initial raid, the door from Mount Carmel Center, and other conveniently missing items -- will resurface this time around. Do the calls for another round of hearings in Congress portend a satisfactory resolution of the case (i.e. are the murderers going to stand trial, be rightly convicted by a jury of their peers, and be led away in manacles)?

Somehow, I doubt it. The Clinton administration has invested far too much capital in protecting Reno from the consequences of its policies and her actions. Clinton will never admit that his troops fired the first unprovoked shots in a war that has so far claimed the lives of over 200 people, including the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing, which supposedly took place as retribution for the events at Waco.

Reno would be an international fugitive if she was the Attorney General of Yugoslavia. She would be on death row if she had thrown a CS grenade into someone's kerosene-lit house and then rammed it with her pickup truck after beating them unconscious. But since she committed her crimes using the surrogate agents of the BATF and FBI, and since those crimes reflected the official policy of a government run amuck, she has her freedom. For now.

But what happens when and if those who value human life and human freedom assume the place in government that rightfully belongs only to them? What is Ms. Reno going to do when we elect an administration predicated on Bill of Rights Enforcement?

Will Janet Reno, former Attorney General of the United States and proud recipient of the (no joke) Torchbearer Award, flee the country and attempt to live out her natural life in the relative, if limited, freedom of an exile and a fugitive from justice? Will she descend into the underground, adopting a new name and pretending to be an old retired female impersonator, passing unrecognized on the streets except by fellow fugitives like Larry Potts and Lon Horiuchi?

Is there a Garibaldi Street in Miami?

And if there is, would she be welcome there?

Reno's claim to fame, before her elevation to national power under the aegis of the newly elected Bill Clinton, was her penchant subjecting children to everything short of the rack to get them to fabricate stories of molestation. A number of her victims are back on the streets, having served years in prison for crimes they didn't commit before their convictions were overturned. No, I don't think she'll find hospitality forthcoming on her old stomping grounds. After next year, she'll be out there somewhere, nervously waiting for the other shoe to drop.

And it will.

You can run, but you can't hide, Ms. Reno. The wheels of justice sometimes turn slowly, especially when happenstance puts someone like yourself temporarily in the driver's seat. But turn they must. Even a corrupt machine like the current one-party state can't afford to have its legitimacy undermined to the extent that the actions of ATF and FBI have undermined it on your watch.

You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will -- sooner or later -- be used against you in a court of law.

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