U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno Friday night characterized as “despicable and out of bounds” any attempts to compare the bombing in Oklahoma City with the government’s actions two years earlier at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas.
“The one parallel with Oklahoma City is the heartbreaking number of children who were victimized as the result of human madness,” Reno told an audience of law enforcement officials at the Airport Hilton.
Reno was in New Jersey Friday night to pay tribute to federal law enforcement officials, including the four agents who died at Waco April 19, 1993, two years to the day before the car bomb exploded in front of the federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 167 people - including 19 children.
“It is unfair, it is unreasonable, it is a lie, to spread the poison that the government was responsible at Waco for the murder of innocents,” said Reno.
Reno’s supporting words seemed sorely needed as Friday night’s meeting of the Federal Law Enforcement Association opened with its master of ceremonies, Craig Floyd, proclaiming, “Wake up, America. Law enforcement officials are the good guys.”
“Americans of decency and good will know who you are, and support you.” Reno said. “Make no mistake about that. The harsh words of the few who wish to substitute their will for the rule of law you protect do not speak for the American people.”
Reno spent much of her talk recounting the events at Waco and defending the government.
“Four ATF agents were killed,” Reno said. “Sixteen were wounded. They were doing their duty. No government can walk away from the deliberate shooting of its own police officers and we did not.”
In what officials later described as a tearful and emotional ceremony, family members of the four Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms special agents killed at Waco were given heroism awards. That portion of the evening was closed to the press out of respect for the families.
Two local law enforcement officials, Chris Bauer and Michael Brenner, were honored for their assistance in the rescue of a fishing crew out of the waters off Cape Cod in September 1993.