Former Secretary of State Warren Christopher passes at 85
Christopher served as Secretary of State during Bill Clinton's first term and was an architect of the 1995 Bosnian peace accords.
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Christopher also chaired a commission that proposed reforms of the Los Angeles Police Department in the aftermath of the videotaped beating by police of motorist Rodney King in 1991. When four officers arrested for beating King were acquitted of most charges the following year Los Angeles erupted in days of deadly rioting.
In examining years of police records following the riots, the Christopher Commission found "a significant number of officers" routinely used excessive force.
Accepting Christopher's resignation as the nation's top diplomat, President Bill Clinton said Christopher "left the mark of his hand on history."
As Clinton considered a successor, Christopher offered the criteria he would apply if the choice was up to him.
"It would be somebody who has the capacity to provide forceful leadership, someone who has great tenacity, someone who has endurance and a lot of stamina," he said.
His travels became the stuff of diplomatic legend.
In the skies over Africa and approaching his 71st birthday in October 1996, Christopher set a new mark for miles traveled by a secretary of state over four years, the normal length of a presidential term: 704,487 (1,133,709 kilometers).
The crew on his Air Force jet presented him with a congratulatory cake.
Christopher overcame sleep deprivation, difficult negotiations with the likes of the late Syrian President Hafez Assad and nagging ulcers to keep his eye on American interests.
Always crisp, modest and polite, he drove home an agreement in his last year on the job to halt fighting in Lebanon between Israel and extremist Shiite guerrillas.
"We have achieved the goal of our mission, which was to achieve an agreement that will save lives and end the suffering of people on both sides of the Israeli-Lebanese border," Christopher said in Jerusalem, his weeklong mission a success.
Madeleine Albright stepped in for Clinton's second term and Christopher returned to his law firm of O'Melveny & Myers with Clinton's "deep gratitude" for his service and with president's playful description of Christopher as "the only man ever to eat M&Ms on Air Force One with a fork."
Unlike some who held the job, Christopher worked smoothly with the president's other senior advisers.