Janet Reno, for­mer U.S. at­tor­ney general, dies at 78

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - OBITUARIES - By Curt Anderson

MI­AMI >> Janet Reno, who was the first woman to serve as U.S. at­tor­ney general but also be­came the epi­cen­ter of mul­ti­ple po­lit­i­cal storms dur­ing the Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion, died early Mon­day. She was 78.

Reno died from com­pli­ca­tions of Parkin­son’s dis­ease, her god­daugh­ter Gabrielle D’Alem­berte said, adding that Reno spent her final days at home in Mi­ami sur­rounded by fam­ily and friends.

A for­mer Mi­ami prose­cu­tor who fa­mously told re­porters “I don’t do spin,” Reno served nearly eight years as at­tor­ney general un­der Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, the long­est stint in a cen­tury.

Her sis­ter, Maggy Reno Hur­challa, told The As­so­ci­ated Press that Clin­ton called over the week­end said to “tell Janet I love her” and that many oth­ers from her ca­reer vis­ited or called, in­clud­ing for­mer Florida gov­er­nor and Sen. Bob Gra­ham. Bill and Hil­lary Clin­ton is­sued a state­ment prais­ing Reno’s ten­ure and Pres­i­dent Barack Obama called her “an Amer­i­can orig­i­nal” in his own state­ment.

“When Janet Reno ar­rived in Washington in 1993, the city had never seen any­one like her be­fore — and hasn’t since,” Obama said. “Her legacy lives on in a gen­er­a­tion of lawyers she in­spired, the or­di­nary lives she touched, and a na­tion that is more just.”

One of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s most rec­og­niz­able and po­lar­iz­ing fig­ures, Reno faced crit­i­cism early on for the deadly raid on the Branch Da­vid­ian com­pound at Waco, Texas, where sect leader David Koresh and some 80 fol­low­ers per­ished.

She was known for de­lib­er­at­ing slowly, pub­licly and in a blunt man­ner. Reno fre­quently said “the buck stops with me,” bor­row­ing the mantra from Pres­i­dent Harry S. Tru­man.

Af­ter Waco, Reno fig­ured into some of the Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion’s con­tro­ver­sies and scan­dals, in­clud­ing White­wa­ter, Fi­le­gate, bungling at the FBI lab­o­ra­tory, Mon­ica Lewin­sky, al­leged Chi­nese nu­clear spy­ing and ques­tion­able cam­paign fi­nanc­ing in the 1996 Clin­ton-Gore re-elec­tion.

In the spring of 2000, Reno en­raged her home­town’s Cuban-Amer­i­can com­mu­nity when she au­tho­rized the armed seizure of 5-year-old Elian Gon­za­lez. He was taken from the Lit­tle Ha­vana home of his Mi­ami rel­a­tives so he could be re­turned to his fa­ther in Cuba.

Dur­ing her ten­ure, the Jus­tice Depart­ment pros­e­cuted the 1995 Oklahoma City bomb­ing case, cap­tured the “Un­abomber” Theodore Kaczyn­ski that same year and in­ves­ti­gated the 1993 ter­ror­ist at­tack on New York’s World Trade Cen­ter. The depart­ment also filed a ma­jor an­titrust law­suit against Mi­crosoft Corp. and Reno was a strong ad­vo­cate for pro­tect­ing abor­tion clin­ics from vi­o­lence.

At­tor­ney General Loretta Lynch praised Reno’s in­tegrity, and called her a trail­blazer and “one of the most ef­fec­tive, de­ci­sive and well­re­spected lead­ers” in Jus­tice Depart­ment his­tory.

Lynch said Reno ap­plied one test: “to do what the law and the facts re­quired. She ac­cepted the re­sults of that test re­gard­less of which way the po­lit­i­cal winds were blowing.”

Mi­ami U.S. At­tor­ney Wifredo Fer­rer, who worked for Reno in Washington from 1995-2000, said, “Even if you agreed or dis­agreed with her, you knew she was com­ing from a place of in­tegrity.” He added, “Through her work, through her de­ci­sions, she ex­hib­ited a lot of strength and a lot of courage.”

Janet Reno

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.