The first female U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, who shaped the prosecution of those responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing, died early Monday morning, November 7th. She was 78 and died from complications of Parkinson’s disease.
President Bill Clinton nominated Reno to the Justice Department’s highest post in 1993. Just one month into her administration, she faced the first of many challenges, the death of four government agents in the standoff at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas. 75 men, women and children later died in the government raid. Timothy McVeigh would use this event as motivation for his terrorist attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City.
The Attorney General was hands on during the Oklahoma City bombing trials. A former federal prosecutor, Reno never lost sight of those who had lost so much. Beth Wilkinson, a federal prosecutor on the case, said above all Reno wanted justice. “She knew that for the victims, the survivors, the family members a fair trial was the best that could happen to them because it would be upheld on appeal. And you know the ultimate punishment would be implemented.”
“I am reminded by her memory of the importance of getting decisions right and being fearless in making the hard decisions. She made sure we handled the investigation in OKC with every resource we had. And she made sure that the resulting trials were ones that would do justice to justice in America.” Jamie Gorelick, Deputy U.S. Attorney General, 1995.
“Janet Reno fought tirelessly for Oklahomans in the pursuit of justice following the bombing. She led the Department of Justice in this, the largest investigation ever in the U.S. To this day she remained well regarded among those affected most by the Oklahoma City bombing, and we are saddened by her death,” said Kari Watkins, Executive Director.