In a recent column in World Magazine, Editor Marvin Olasky took various quotations from prominent journalists to demonstrate their outlandish biases while at the same time feigning “journalistic objectivity.” For the most part, Olasky succeeded although it was in large part because so many journalists make themselves easy targets, as they have shown themselves to be sycophants of the Clinton Administration.
One quotation, however, particularly outraged Olasky: “Janet Reno, according to Juan Williams of the Washington Post, is approaching ‘Abe Lincoln status. People just assume she’s honest, honest Janet Reno.'” That anyone would compare Reno to the Great Emancipator would seem nearly heretical, or so it seems to Olasky.
While Olasky is an able and perceptive journalist, he was wrong on this occasion. Juan Williams is right. Janet Reno, who, unfortunately, currently serves as U.S. Attorney General, does compare favorably with disHonest Abe. Let us count the ways.
The most egregious of Lincoln’s offenses was his illegal crushing of the Constitutional powers given the sovereign states of this country. Without legal precedent, he sent armies into the South with the purpose of subjugating the southern people and succeeded not because of superior ideas, but through the use of brute force.
Likewise, Reno in one of the first acts of her unfortunate term in office sent not only the FBI but also units from the U.S. Armed Forces in clear violation of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. And, like disHonest Abe, she did so not using legal precedent, choosing thuggish brutality instead. (One should also remember that the law enforcement agencies of the State of Texas deplored Reno’s decision because they knew the Branch Dividians and realized they were no threat to society – unlike the Attorney General who has been a threat for many years.)
Both Lincoln and Reno also fit into the category of war criminals. Lincoln encouraged his troops to ransack and burn southern villages and cities and even blocked efforts by others in his government to stop at least some of the carnage. Reno authorized the use of CS gas against the men, women and children at the Mount Carmel property. The Geneva Convention has banned this gas in warfare and anyone who uses it in combat can be tried as a war criminal before an international tribunal.
Lincoln and Reno did not stop with their egregious violations of state sovereignty. The law in the eyes of these two, was simply a contraption to manipulate to their own liking. Take Lincoln’s unilateral abolishment of the constitutional right of Habeus Corpus, for example. The “Great Emancipator” had no problem throwing his political enemies into prison without trial, as he routinely rounded up those he believed a threat to him. During his term of office, Lincoln reduced the once-magnificent U.S. system of justice to a kangaroo court.
Reno, too, uses the law to satisfy her own political agenda. Even before her disastrous tenure as Attorney General, she had abused the law while serving as the chief prosecutor of Dade County, Florida. Especially egregeous was her malicious prosecution of police officer Grant Snowden, who has imprisoned for more than a decade for false charges of child molestation.
Ever the “lover” of children, Reno accused Snowden of masterminding an utterly fantastic sex ring, one that only a person suspending belief in math and time could believe. Reno’s minions browbeat dozens of little children into telling outlandish stories of what Snowden allegedly did to them. Only recently was the Snowden conviction overturned by the Florida Supreme Court.
Not to be outdone, Reno even fabricated sex charges against a 15-year-old boy a la Snowden. Unfortunately for the evil prosecutor, a jury found the youngster innocent. The enraged Reno decided to file even more charges against the boy, but his family wisely left the country and returned to their native Holland.
Like Lincoln, Reno has permitted the government to carry on a war against dissidents. Despite a mountain of evidence linking the Internal Revenue Service to illegal investigations of organizations critical of Bill Clinton, Reno has refused to investigate the IRS. Reno’s clumsy attempts to block legitimate Department of Justice investigations into Clinton’s campaign finance scandal is another example of her willingness to circumvent the rule of law for her own political agenda.
Lincoln’s greatest legal “achievement,” the Emancipation Proclamation, was patently fraudulent. It freed no slaves, declaring only that slaves in unoccupied Confederal territory were henceforth free. Likewise, Reno’s campaign to “protect” children has left a wake of death and destruction. Reno has protected no children; she has only made them worse off, emulating Lincoln.
Even their very “good” reputations have been fabricated. The modern picture of Lincoln did not reflect opinion of that era but rather came about because of a dishonest biography written by the radical journalist Carl Sandburg. Reno, on the other hand, has been the benefactor of the statist press, which has consistenly given a false portrayal of this fraudulent Attorney General.
In short, both Abe Lincoln and Janet Reno have left the same evil legacy: trashing the rule of law and trampling on the rights of American citizens. Lincoln was even tall and ugly, as is Reno. However, there is one Lincoln legacy that even Reno cannot duplicate.
By cutting ties of the dollar to gold and by nationalizing the U.S. banking system, Lincoln was able to inflate the currency wily-nily in order to finance his private jihad against the South. So far, Reno has not been able to control the money supply. Maybe Bill Clinton might want to consider appointing Reno to the Federal Reserve System. At that point, the disHonest Abe-Janet Reno comparisons would be complete.
December 14, 1999
Professor Anderson teaches economics at North Greenville College in South Carolina.