Early coverage of the pending extradition of Avrohom Mondrowitz noted that the Brooklyn DA asked the US Department of Justice for Mondrowitz's extradition immediately after the new treaty between Israel and the US went into effect in January 2007. Later, the DA's office clarified that – the extradition request was sent to the DOJ in February. Jerry Schmetterer, the DA's spokesperson, confirmed this with me today, insisting February was when the request to the DOJ was made. It turns out the Brooklyn DA's office did not get confirmation of the new treaty until late January. This accounts, it seems, for a February request.
Enter the DOJ. It's spokesperson, Bryan Sienna, confirmed what all later news coverage has reported – the US Department of Justice did not ask Israel for the extradition of Avrohom Mondrowitz until September 2007. The exact date according to Sienna is September 7.
This means there is a 7 month gap between the Brooklyn DA's request to the DOJ and the DOJ's request to Israel.
Without specifying the case or any details, I asked a federal legal professional who has dealt with foreign extraditions about normal practice. Is there ever a gap between the local request to the DOJ and the DOJ's request to the foreign government?
It's normally very fast, he told me. I asked him if 7 months was an unusual delay. Unheard of, he said. Highly unusual. From his experience, there should be almost no time between a request made by state or local law enforcement and the formal request made by the DOJ to the foreign country involved.
I called Jerry Schmetterer back. He again insisted the February date is firm.
So what happened here? Why was the DOJ's request delayed by 7 months?
I don't know.
I looked to see if anything unusual happened in late August or early September, something that might have removed an impediment to the process. So far, I've only found this: US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales resigned his post on August 27, 2007. As you know, Gonzales was implicated in both the US Attorney firing scandal and in other inappropriate activity. Gonzales' resignation was effective September 17, 2007.
Is the Gonzales resignation linked to the Mondrowitz extradition request?
I don't know. But I do know a 7 month wait for the DOJ to ask a foreign country for an extradition is extremely unusual, and that unusual delay ended almost immediately after Gonzales resigned.
[Thanks to Dr. R-P for some support on this.]