Janet Reno, the embattled and controversial ex-US Attorney General who served in the Clinton administration from 1993-2001 is dead after 20 years of battling with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive disease of the nervous system marked by tremor, muscular rigidity and imprecise movement.
Born in the summer of 1938 to two newspaper reporters in Miami, Reno attended public school where she bagged a degree in Chemistry and later went ahead to study law in Harvard. She was 78 years at the time of her death and was the first ever female US Attorney General to assume such position. She served in this regard for the two terms President Bill Clinton was in office. Although not a first choice for President Clinton, she went ahead to become a sitting Attorney General after the President’s other candidates were not verified.
The former Attorney General a high-profile lawyer presided over highly controversial cases, leaving lots of indictments in her trail, especially that involving domestic terrorist, Ted Kaczynski; and the case of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols for their participation in the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing that left 168 people dead. The Attorney General pushed for the death sentence and had McVeigh executed in 2001; Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman in the bombing of the World Trade Center, the Waco cult Leader, David Koresh and the deportation of Elian Gonzalez.
Just 38 days in office, Ex- Attorney General Reno, endorsed the FBI raid of the Waco cult compound in Texas that had about 80 civilians – including women, children and non-combatants dead. Reno admitted her decision was wrong on Larry King Live and was quoted as saying “the buck lies with me” “I am accountable.”
The most controversial of Mrs Reno’s case was that involving a six-year old Cuban boy who lost his mother to a ship wreck while fleeing from the authoritarian Cuban president, Fidel Castro. In the tussle for Elian’s custody between his relatives’ residents in the US and his father back at Cuba, Reno endorsed a raid to the home of Elian’s relatives in April 2000 to return him to his father in Cuba.
More importantly was the ruling against the giant software company, Microsoft, by a federal judge whom Reno’s administration brought to fore. The case was dissolved with the election of President Bush.
Janet Reno, returned to her home town shortly after leaving office and ran for the governorship position in Florida, but lost in the primaries.
She has been described by her successor, Eric Holder, as a tenacious and tireless worker with impeccable work ethic throughout her years on the job.