Tuesday, April 20, 2010

As long as Clinton's inserting himself into the news

Kenneth Anderson writes at Volokh that Clinton's words trying to tie the bombing at Oklahoma City to those who are angry about the federal government inspired him to remember details from a report on what happened at Waco. Referring to a review he wrote of the book by Dick J. Reavis, The Ashes of Waco, Anderson cites a horrifying detail that I didn't remember from the time.
[T]here is the post hoc justification for the use of CS tear-gas in the raid offered by the US Justice Department and senior Clinton administration officials. The public generally, and even the Congressional hearings, seem to have accepted that the children at Waco were gassed and then died as, in effect, “collateral damage” in the course of a raid aimed at their parents.

This is not quite the case, however, by the Clinton administration’s own admissions. CS gas was used at the compound, in order, as senior White House adviser George Stephanopoulos said, echoing senior Justice Department statements, to “try and pressure” those in the compound. It was hoped, he said, that as this “pressure was increased, the maternal instincts of the mothers might take over and they might try to leave with their kids” (Washington Times, April 23, 1995).

But the FBI knew beforehand that adults in the compound had gas masks; the gas therefore would not put pressure on them. On whom, then? If the FBI knew that the adults had gas masks, but went ahead with the gas attack anyway, it is plain that this “pressure” was brought directly against the children because, as the FBI knew, they could not fit into adult– size gas masks. “Maternal feelings”, the FBI hoped, would be unleashed in the mothers by watching their children choking, gasping and blistering from the gas.

The plan Reno approved and took to President Clinton for approval contemplated the children choking in the gas unprotected for forty-eight hours if necessary, to produce the requisite “maternal feelings”. By taking aim at the children with potentially lethal gas, their mothers would be compelled, according to the FBI plan repeatedly defended by the Clinton administration afterwards as “rational” planning, to flee with them into the arms of those trying to gas them. [Emphasis added.]

An independent report on Waco written by the Harvard Professor of Law and Psychiatry, Alan A. Stone, for the then Deputy Attorney General Philip Heymann, says it “is difficult to believe that the US government would deliberately plan to expose twenty-five children, most of them infants and toddlers, to CS gas for forty-eight hours”. Unfortunately, however, that appears to have been exactly the plan.

Now do a bit of role reversal in your imaginations. Just picture if the Bush administration had used these sorts of tactics against a group of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan or Iraq that included women and children and had used gas on the group deliberately targeting small children in order to put "pressure" on the adults. Can you imagine the international outrage?

Remember this story the next time you see Bill Clinton metaphorically shaking his finger at those who are criticizing the Democrats and the expansion of the federal government.