MIAMI: Janet Reno, the first female US attorney general and a lightning rod for Republican attacks during Bill Clinton’s presidency, has died in Florida, US media reported Monday. She was 78.
Reno, who had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease, was the top US law enforcement officer throughout Clinton’s 1993-2001 presidency.
She came under fire barely one month after becoming attorney general for her handling of a botched April 1993 FBI raid on an armed religious cult in Waco, Texas.
More than 80 people died when the Branch Davidian cult’s compound went up in flames.
Her controversial actions included ordering the Miami relatives of six-year-old Cuban shipwreck survivor Elian Gonzalez in 2000 to surrender the boy to federal authorities.
US immigration officials determined that Gonzalez’s father had the right to take his son from his estranged exile Cuban Miami relatives who had cared for the boy since his rescue months earlier at sea attempting to immigrate to the United States.
US agents burst into the home and retrieved the boy at gunpoint, then returned Gonzalez to his father in communist Cuba.
A graduate of Harvard Law School, Reno, was state attorney for Dade County, where Miami is located, from 1978 until her appointment as attorney general.
Upon leaving office Reno, the Florida native, who was six foot, two inches (1.9 meters) tall, unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2002 but lost in the Democratic party primary.
Her post-government work included a 2013 appearance as a guest character on the animated show “The Simpsons.” AFP