Holder Decision on Benghazi Case Reverberates

Michael S. Schmidt
The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Hours after learning that the United States ambassador to Libya and three others had been killed in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, senior American officials held a secure videoconference call to discuss how to proceed in investigating the attack.

The prosecutor on the call for the Justice Department was Zainab N. Ahmad, one of the department’s most respected national security lawyers. In less than a decade in the United States attorney’s office in Brooklyn, Ms. Ahmad had successfully overseen several high-profile prosecutions, working alongside the New York-based F.B.I. agents who were going to take the lead in investigating Benghazi.

But as Ms. Ahmad began to build the case with the agents, other prosecutors in the Justice Department began quietly lobbying Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to take it over. Neil H. MacBride, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, which covers Northern Virginia, called a senior F.B.I. official in Washington to strategize about how they could land the case.

And the United States attorney for the District of Columbia, Ronald C. Machen Jr., sent a series of messages to Mr. Holder’s deputies, arguing that his office — which is perceived to have a lower standing in the department’s hierarchy than the ones in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Northern Virginia — was due for one of the big cases…

…the decision to give the case to Mr. Machen’s office has left lingering concerns among some senior F.B.I. and Justice Department officials who worry that it was a mistake to entrust such a politically charged prosecution to an office with less experience than others in trying terrorists…



The complete article is at The New York Times.



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