Obama recalls Janet Reno as American original

Today, many across the nation are remembering Janet Reno, a former State Attorney, and the first woman to be appointed Attorney General under president Bill Clinton.

Reno was USA attorney general for all but the first seven weeks of former President Bill Clinton's eight-year presidency, taking over for acting Justice Department chief Stuart Gerson in March 1993.

"She was strong. She was smart", says McCaskill.

"Throughout her pioneering career in Miami and in Washington, Janet Reno distinguished herself by remaining true to her principles and to herself".

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Her other actions included ordering the Miami relatives of six-year-old Cuban shipwreck survivor Elian Gonzalez in 2000 to surrender the boy to federal authorities. She earned her law degree in 1963, as one of 16 women in that year's Harvard Law class. To those who alleged that she was soft on President Clinton, she countered, "Anybody that thought that I tried to protect the president has forgotten that I asked for the expansion of the Monica Lewinsky matter".

In 1989, I wrote and produced a song about Reno going after deadbeat dads. On the other side, she received honors for enforcing civil rights and regulating violence on TV.

She was criticised for a deadly raid on the Branch Davidian cult compound in Waco, Texas after just weeks in office. "The buck stops with me". She later said on CNN's "Larry King Live" that her decision was "obviously wrong".

She became the longest-serving attorney general of the 20th century and was at the centre of several political crises.

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The former attorney-general weathered White House complaints that she was not a team player and that she sought too many special prosecutors to investigate cases, including the Whitewater affair involving the finances of the president and first lady Hillary Clinton.

"It was a risky situation", Reno said of the incident during a 2005 lecture at Duke University. "She was in the vanguard of those women who endured much and helped make possible the gender progress that our nation has long needed and is still making real". In 1995, Reno played a pivotal role in identifying and convicting Theodore Kaczynski, the domestic terrorist known as the "Unabomber" who killed three people and injured 23 with his letter bombs.

Upon leaving office Reno, a Florida native, unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2002 but lost in the Democratic party primary.

I was fortunate to thank her in person. Reno later acknowledged the mistake: "I'm very sorry it happened".

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Reno eventually won the support of the city's black community, attending countless community meetings, church services and parades.


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