Did the Clinton Administration
Repeal the Constitution?
This article was written while Clinton was still in office. I've
decided to leave it that way to retain the right mood.
If Attorney General Janet Reno doesn't resign immediately, Congress
should impeach her for her misuse of force to take Elian Gonzalez from
his family in Miami.
The difference between the United States government and the governments
of Nazi Germany and Fidel Castro's Cuba is that in the United States the
government is supposed to obey the law.
The judicial branch of government decides what the law is, not the executive
branch as Kaiser Bill Clinton and Fraulein Reno claim. An Attorney General
isn't supposed to use armed storm troopers to force citizens to accept
her personal opinions about what the law is.
Who should have custody of Elian Gonzalez isn't the important question.
Who makes the decision is.
If Reno wanted to take Elian from Lazaro Gonzalez, she should have first
obtained a court order requiring Lazaro to relinquish custody instead of
personally ordering him to do so. When Reno asked a court to order Lazaro
to relinquish custody of Elian, the court refused to grant her request.
Her action in taking Elian by force anyway demonstrated contempt for that
Reno's assault on the Gonzalez residence demonstrated her anger at Elian's
relatives for not obeying her orders completely. They had already agreed
to allow Juan Miguel Gonzalez to have custody in Miami. A similar burst
of anger almost exactly seven years earlier caused her to authorize an
FBI assault on the Branch Davidians for not obeying her orders.
Fortunately this case ended with no deaths. All the Branch Davidian
children Reno claimed she wanted to save died. The same thing could easily
have happened in Miami.
As a Vietnam veteran I know that many things can sound like a gunshot,
or an exploding shell, when you're worried about someone shooting at you.
In an urban setting such sounds can include a car back firing, firecrackers,
a door slamming, and a light bulb breaking.
What would have happened if one or more of the officers in Miami thought
someone was shooting at them? Would they have killed Elian to save him
like the FBI did the Branch Davidian children?
Several years ago in a police officer was dispatched to a suspicious
situation in a southwestern city. When the officer arrived he found the
door to one of the apartments barricaded on the outside. After entering
the dimly lit apartment he saw someone pointing a gun at him and fired.
Then he discovered that the gun was a toy held by a boy about the age of
Elian. The boy died.
What would have happened if Elian had gone into the closet alone and
pointed the end of a realistic looking toy gun out from behind the door?
Would the INS officer have fired thinking he was in danger?
If Congress doesn't impeach Reno, it should at least enact the following
(1) Require any potential Attorney General to pass the same psychological
tests required of other federal agents and to be periodically retested.
The Attorney General has enormous power and power corrupts.
(2) Limit an attorney general to only a four year term of office.
(3) Prohibit the Immigration and Naturalization Service from handling
child custody matters. Juveniles arriving without a parent or guardian
should be turned over to the appropriate state court with the INS functioning
only as a friend of the court.
(4) For matters already being dealt with by the courts, prohibit federal
agents from obtaining warrents from anyone but the judge or judges(including
appellate judges) handling the case.
(3) Allow states to prosecute federal agents who act improperly. The
state attorney general would request a federal judge to allow him to investigate
and potentially prosecute the case in a federal court. Defendants could
include cabinet officers, but not a sitting president. Victims of the action
could request a judge to authorize prosecution by an attorney general in
a different state if the attorney general in the state where the incident
occurred declined to act. The federal government can prosecute state and
local officers for violating citizens' rights. States should have a similar
ability to protect their citizens from illegal acts by federal agents.
Allowing prosecution of cabinet officers would discourage them from
becoming directly involved in operations and thus reduce the potential
for use of excessive force. Reno may have ordered the raid because she
was afraid her prestige would suffer if she didn't get everything her way.
She was afraid a real compromise would make her look bad. Agents may feel
they don't have to worry about being disciplined for using excessive force
by a cabinet officer involved in the case.
Democrats who oppose these reforms because they would restrict a Democratic
administration should consider that the abuses represented by Nixon administration
plumbers' unit began in the administrations of Democrats Franklin Roosevelt
and Harry Truman.
But then, maybe I shouldn't worry. Fraulein Reno attacked the Branch Davidians and I'm not a Branch Davidian. She attacked some Cubans and I'm not a Cuban. I wouldn't have to worry if she, or some future attorney general, attacked Jews or blacks because I'm not a member of those minorities. I'm not part of any minority. Am I.
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I also write at Mediard