A Judicious Choice

The Christian Science Monitor, February 16, 1993 | Go to article overview

A Judicious Choice


WHEN asked if he would have done anything different in his search for an attorney general, President Clinton replied: "Oh, I would have called Janet Reno on November the 5th."

Would that he had. He would have avoided two distractions. And given the Senate's initial fast-track confirmation process, the nation could be four weeks closer to seeing the restoration of morale and credibility to a Justice Department that needs both.

In many ways, the agency's emphasis has shifted during the last 12 years to focus more on law enforcement than on seeking justice for all Americans - two concepts not necessarily synonymous. That period saw a marked emphasis on a war on drugs, for example, while the civil rights division languished.

Meanwhile, the agency has been the battlefield for highly publicized charges and countercharges between former Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director William Sessions. And it has been criticized for its handling of probes into the Bank of Credit and Commerce International and into the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro's alleged part in bankrolling Saddam Hussein's military buildup.

Into this maelstrom will step Ms. Reno, if she is confirmed. Many elements of her background are appealing. She is familiar with how justice issues look from a local vantage point. …

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