The Justice Department was on high alert last week, the meetings intense andprolonged – standard procedure when the agency is in the midst of a crisis.

But there was one major difference this time: The department’s top twoofficers – Attorney General Janet Reno and her deputy, Eric Holder Jr. – wereabsent from some of the most important meetings. During those gatherings,officials crafted Main Justice’s response to disclosures that the FBI usedpyrotechnic devices during the 1993 Branch Davidian standoff near Waco thatleft 76 dead.