WASHINGTON — On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, hundreds of mourners gathered at the National Cathedral in Washington for a solemn remembrance of the 26 victims. The candlelight vigil set the cathedral’s nave aglow while the World Children’s Choir sang the plaintive “My Beautiful Town” in what Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.) described as a “very peaceful, moving, hopeful” service.
On the other side of the Potomac, a small cohort of CIA officials gathered under jaundiced fluorescent lights at the agency’s McLean headquarters to reflect on their own tribute to victims of the mass shooting.
Earlier that day, officials in Yemen confirmed that a U.S. drone had killed at least 15 civilians—including several children— who were on their way home from a wedding in a remote corner of the country.
“We have our own way of dealing with grief around here,” said a senior intelligence official who authorized the strike. “We like to remember one senseless massacre with another.”
After initially declining to comment on the strike—which reports indicate was intended to target Al Qaida militants traveling with the wedding convoy—the CIA later decided that the timing of the attack made for “a fitting tribute” to the victims of Sandy Hook.
“We were hoping for exactly 26, but it’s the thought that counts,” said another unnamed official who said he was not authorized to comment publicly on drone strikes.
Drone strikes have become commonplace in Yemen as part of the United States’ campaign against Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which Washington considers one of the most active factions of the militant network.
“Just like many here at home are clamoring for tighter gun control, our Middle Eastern friends are asking their government for stricter drone control,” continued the official.
“It’s pretty obvious that’s not going to happen for either side, but that doesn’t mean we can’t honor those who were slain by slaying more.”