San Diego U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said Tuesday she does not feel pressure from Attorney General Eric Holder on the types of cases her office should bring.
In a radio show interview, during which she said it is not “out of the realm of possibility” that more suspects might be arrested in connection with supporting a terrorist group operating in Somalia, she discussed her predecessor, Carol Lam, who was fired during the Bush administration’s purge of U.S. Attorneys.
When asked if there was pressure from the Obama administration, Duffy said, “I actually don’t feel pressured by Attorney General Holder to pursue certain kind of cases.”
In August, the Justice Department announced charges against 14 individuals in Minnesota, California and Alabama. The defendants are charged with providing material support for the terrorist group al-Shabab, which is based in Somalia and has ties to al-Qaeda. An attorney for one of the individuals charged, Nima Ali Yusuf, did not seek bail during a hearing on Tuesday because she is not a U.S. citizen, and being released on bail would mean she would automatically be placed in an Immigration Custom Enforcement facility, according to her attorney.
Duffy said the investigation is ongoing, adding that “we are definitely closing in on the individuals that we believe to be involved in, as has come out in other papers and publicly.”
As for the priorities in her office and her relationship with the Obama administration, she said, “I’m happy to report that I think a number of the priorities in this district are in line with the national priorities.”
She went on to say that she had met Holder several times, and that the Attorney General gives individual U.S. Attorneys considerable discretion. “And really, what the position of this Department of Justice is under Attorney General Holder is that they’re focused on setting the policy of the nation and really leave to each and every U.S. Attorney in the district to be the chief law enforcement officer in their district and set the ways in which those policies can be best [implemented in]…that district given the unique characteristics and needs of the district.”