Monday 27 February 2017

First female US attorney general, who ordered Waco raid, dies aged 78

Will Dunham

Controversial attorney general Janet Reno pictured with then US president Bill Clinton, with whom she served for two terms. Photo: Getty
Controversial attorney general Janet Reno pictured with then US president Bill Clinton, with whom she served for two terms. Photo: Getty

Janet Reno, the first woman US attorney general, who served eight tumultuous years with President Bill Clinton, has died aged 78.

Reno's goddaughter said she succumbed to complications of Parkinson's disease early yesterday in Miami.

The blunt-spoken lawyer worked as the top US law enforcement official under Mr Clinton from 1993 to 2001, becoming the longest-serving attorney general of the 20th century.

Just 38 days into the job, she authorised the deadly 1993 raid on the Branch Davidian cult compound at Waco, Texas.

Ms Reno headed the justice department during the government's huge antitrust case against Microsoft.

She appeared with Mr Clinton after the 1995 truck bomb attack on the Oklahoma City federal building that killed 168 people, and vowed to seek the death penalty for the perpetrators.

In 2001, convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh become the first federal prisoner executed since 1963. McVeigh said he carried out the attack to punish the US government for the Waco cult raid and another raid in Idaho.

The former Miami prosecutor, picked by Mr Clinton after his first two choices for the job ran into trouble at the confirmation stage, exhibited an independent streak and a brusque manner that often upset the White House.

She was diagnosed in 1995 with Parkinson's disease.

"All it does is shake and you get used to it shaking after a while," she once said.

Ms Reno was attorney general throughout Mr Clinton's two terms and was in the job longer than anyone except William Wirt, who held it from November 1817 until March 1829.

Irish Independent

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