Outspoken, outrageous and absolutely indifferent to others’ opinions, Janet Reno was truly one of a kind.
— Paul Anderson
She was the first woman to hold the job of US Attorney General, and on getting that position, held it for the duration of the Clinton administration, the longest tenure than any in the previous 150 years. Unfortunately for her, Janet Reno will be remembered for much that was wrong with that same administration.
It began with her being President Bill Clinton’s third choice, a very typical state of affairs. Both corporate lawyer Zoë Baird and federal judge Kimba Wood had been found wanting using undocumented immigrants as nannies.
Reno’s two terms in office provided a foretaste of what would happen with the US National Security State in the twenty-first century. The World Trade Centre received attention in 1993 in a terrorist attack, supplying law enforcement officials with an ominous warning. In 1995, with the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, the divisions in Clinton’s America, with its violence, its post-Cold War illnesses, came to the fore.
What Reno will most be remembered for will be less her anti-trust suit against Microsoft, or using the federal law to safeguard clinics providing abortion services, and protecting women seeking those services. More in point, the dark, bloody episode of the assault on the Branch Dravidian complex in Waco, Texas in 1993 will remain a marked stain in institutional hysteria,…