United States leaders, from President Bill Clinton down, have been taking it in turns to express regret at the mass suicide by fire in Waco, Texas, of members of a fanatical cult, a tragedy sparked by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's attempts to drive them from their compound with tear-gas. Public recriminations are inevitable and they may be accompanied by action against those responsible for the FBI's tank assault on the cult's buildings, for public outrage will be high, not least because 24 children were among the 86 people who died in theinferno. Most of the anger will be directed at Attorney-General Janet Reno, who has accepted responsibility for the decision to start trying to force the cult members from their fortress. It would be unfortunate, however, if she were pushed from office for takinga hard decision in difficult, complex and emotional circumstances. Ms Reno's decision to authorise the FBI to increase the pressure on cult leader David Koresh and his followers was dangerous and its results were tragic. Yet the final responsibility for the deaths lies not with the FBI but with Koresh and the cult members. They, not the FBI, were the ones who carried out the mass immolation. It may be that the 51-day siege could have had a less violent ending if the FBI had been more patient, if it had waited longer before moving on the compound. We will never know. It also may be that Koresh, with his apocalyptic visions, would have staged a dramatic and tragic death for his cult, no matter whether the FBI had acted next month, or next year. Ms Reno agonised for days before allowing the squeeze to begin. She took a risky decision but it was not a reckless one. As part of the complex psychology of sieges and rescuing hostages, her decision contributed to death on a large scale and this justifies the official remorse. But she did not kill anyone. That decision was taken inside the compound walls.