Janet Reno Confirmed as First Female Attorney General
Janet Reno was confirmed on this day as the first female U.S. Attorney General in American history. She served the entire eight years as President Bill Clinton’s attorney general, and was the longest-serving attorney general since the 1820s. Reno distinguished herself on some civil liberties issues. She took a special interest in domestic violence and how the Justice Department could assist in developing more effective responses. She was also a stickler for the rule of law in some international terrorism cases, insisting that due process be followed in CIA extraordinary rendition cases that would involve the kidnapping of suspected terrorists.
The highly controversial extraordinary rendition program began in the Clinton administration but was expanded enormously in the George W. Bush administration, which imposed no meaningful controls over it. For more on the program, go to December 26, 2002; February 14, 2007; and February 14, 2007.
See a speech by Janet Reno on improving the legal system:
Read an early account: Paul Anderson, Janet Reno: Doing the Right Thing (1994)
Read Reno’s official Justice Department biography (with links to her speeches): http://www.justice.gov/ag/aghistpage.php?id=77