Republicans and 911 Family Members Outrage Over Possible Plea Deal

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Image by Shutterstock.com

Republicans are blasting President Joe Biden for proposing to provide plea bargains to 9/11 plotters, including admitted mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed, to avoid the death penalty. At Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where Mohammed and four other co-defendants have been imprisoned for about 20 years awaiting trial, prosecutors and the defense may reach an agreement that prevents prosecutors from seeking the death penalty, according to the Washington Examiner.

Joe Biden’s allies are negotiating reduced terms for 9/11 hijackers, said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. We can’t trust them to lock up criminals in our communities if they don’t punish terrorists.

A day after the 9/11 anniversary, the Biden administration is considering offering the terrorists who plotted those attacks plea bargains to avoid the death penalty, Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee tweeted. These terrorists murdered thousands of innocent people – they should be executed.

According to CBS News senior investigative correspondent Catherine Herridge, military prosecutors and defense counsel are negotiating prospective plea deals that could remove the death penalty from the table for five suspects convicted in connection with the 9/11 attacks.

The five defendants are being held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. They were formally accused in 2008 of aiding in the planning of the attack. Their cases, however, have been stalled due to access to CIA material and, more recently, COVID delays.

Charles Burlingame was one of the casualties. On 9/11, al Qaeda terrorists hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 out of Burlingame and crashed it into the Pentagon. He was living his dream, according to his sister Debra Burlingame.

Debra told his story at New York’s 9/11 Memorial before this year’s anniversary. But, after learning of a probable plea agreement, her grief has turned to rage.

“I was outraged,” she said. The families are upset; they want justice, not closure, she added.

However, another organization, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, argues that a plea bargain could provide some sense of legal finality.

According to lawyer James Connell, whose firm represents 9/11 defendant Ammar al-Baluchi, all five defendants and the government are engaged in good faith negotiations to bring this trial, which has become a never-ending trial, to a close.

In exchange for medical care and the removal of the death penalty, Al-Baluchi is willing to plead guilty to a long sentence in Guantanamo, Connell added.

Before being transferred to Guantanamo Bay in 2006, the five 9/11 suspects were kept by the CIA and interrogated; critics claim they were tortured. His head had been bashed against a wall repeatedly until he saw sparks and fainted, Alka Pradhan, an attorney on the 9/11 defense team, said of one interrogation tactic known as “walling.” She said it had the most lasting physical impact.

On 9/11, about 3,000 people died; Herridge asked, is it ethical to abolish the death penalty?

After September 11th, the United States government failed all of us in their decisions to deploy unlawful procedures and illegal programs, Pradhan responded, and in doing so, they irreparably ruined whatever legitimate process that may have taken place.

Based on recent court documents, the parties are actively engaged in preliminary plea discussions, according to a spokesman for the military courts.

Suppose a plea agreement is reached and the 9/11 suspects receive lengthy terms. In that case, a provision bans them from being transferred to U.S. land and federal custody, meaning the Guantanamo jail might remain open indefinitely.

According to Debra Burlingame, whose brother was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, she cannot find closure if a future president commutes or exchange their sentences.