U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno told kids in Brooklyn's Red Hook yesterday that "in a way, I'll never know what the right thing to do was" in ending the Branch Davidian standoff at Waco, Texas, in 1993. But people have to "live with [their] judgments . . . I've tried to do what is right," Reno said during a visit to the Red Hook Community Justice Center.
The nation's first female attorney general defended her decision to send in federal agents to end the siege of David Koresh's sect compound, which resulted in the Branch Davidian buildings catching fire and the death of more than 80 cult members.
She said advisers told her the situation inside the compound was deteriorating, and she called for it to be stormed. But she acknowledged in response to a young girl's question that she had no way of knowing for sure if that was the correct decision.
Reno said that when she ends almost eight years in office in January, "I'll be looking for other things to do," adding that she specifically would focus on "community building."
Reno's visit came five months after the opening of the Community Justice Center, the nation's first multijurisdictional community court. One judge hears cases from the neighborhood that normally would go to three different courts: Criminal, Civil or Family. The center is a joint venture between the city, the Unified Court System and Reno's Justice Department.