Former special prosecutor told Reno she handled Waco 'exactly right'.

With Carl Limbacher and Staff For the story behind the story... Sunday May 20, 2001; 6:29 p.m. EDT

Reno: Danforth Told Me I Handled Waco 'Exactly Right'

Ex-Attorney General Janet Reno said Sunday that former special prosecutor John Danforth told her in a recent letter that she handled Waco perfectly.

"I was gratified when I returned home to receive a two page handwritten note from John Danforth," Reno told CNN "Late Edition" host Wolf Blitzer.

The former attorney general quoted Danforth as saying: "I've heard you talk about the decision you made in Waco. I have had the chance as your special counsel to review that decision. I did not pass judgement on it in my report but I want you to know that I think you did exactly the right thing."

Danforth continued, according to Reno: "You could not have walked away from that compound leaving four dead agents and 16 wounded. You could not have stayed there forever. And further delay would have made no difference because David Koresh was seeking his own Armageddon."

On April 19, 1993, after a 51-day standoff, Reno gave the order to send tanks loaded with flammable tear gas crashing into the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, where Mr. Koresh and his followers lived. The ensuing conflagration killed at least 80 persons, including approximately 25 children.

An exact number of the dead has never been determined because the bodies of the Branch Davidians were so badly burned. Reno invoked Danforth's endorsement of her Waco decision when Blitzer's asked how she would handle questions about some of the controversies that occured on her watch at the Justice Department if she decided to run for governor of Florida. Former Sen. Danforth was unavailable to confirm Reno's account of his letter.

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