By Molly O’Toole
The Justice Department’s primary national security jobs were awaiting confirmation – even as 3 Americans were killed in a drone strike.
At the beginning of April, Muhanad Mahmoud al Farekh appeared in federal court in Brooklyn to face federal terrorism charges, seemingly out of nowhere. He had been detained by Pakistani authorities, then secretly spirited to New York to stand trial. U.S. agencies had been watching him for months, debating whether or not to kill the American citizen with a drone strike.
Loretta Lynch, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, issued a statement: “We will continue to use every tool at our disposal to bring such individuals to justice.” She did not add “until or unless I am finally confirmed by the Congress as attorney general.”
On Thursday morning, as Congress at last was set to vote on President Obama’s nominee, the president announced from the White House that a U.S. strike in January accidentally killed Warren Weinstein, an American USAID contractor being held hostage by al Qaeda, and another hostage, Giovani Lo Porto, an Italian citizen.
“Since 9/11, our counterterrorism efforts have prevented terrorist attacks and saved innocent lives, both here in America and around the world,” Obama said, continuing, “As president and as commander-in-chief, I take full responsibility … It is a cruel and bitter truth that in the fog of war generally and our fight against terrorists specifically, mistakes, sometimes deadly mistakes, can occur.”