(RightWing.org) – On September 11, 2001, the world in general and the United States specifically underwent radical changes after members of the Al Qaeda terrorist group hijacked four passenger jets and used them to destroy the twin towers of the World Trade Center and severely damage the Pentagon. Many of the men involved, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who allegedly conceived the attack and presented it to Osama bin Laden, have been held at the Guantánamo Bay (Gitmo) military base in Cuba since their capture.
A Slap to the Face
On August 16, the Associated Press (AP) broke the story of a letter sent by the FBI victim services division to some of the families of the nearly 3,000 people killed, which asked them for comments or questions about the potential of entering into a plea agreement with Mohammed and four other defendants. According to the AP, the document advised the families that prosecutors are “considering entering into pre-trial agreements (PTAs),” which would remove the death penalty in exchange for the five men pleading guilty and accepting criminal responsibility.
Decades of Delays
The five defendants were taken into custody in 2002 and 2003 and finally delivered to Gitmo in 2006 to face a trial in front of a military tribunal. It is the intervening years that have caused much of the legal wrangling, along with a virtual revolving door of defense attorneys and judges.
Defense attorneys have consistently argued that any admissions made by their clients should be considered inadmissible and given no weight in any trial. All five of them have claimed that the CIA tortured them in so-called “black sites” away from the homeland, which they say was a violation of American and international law.
In 2019, The Intercept published a series of classified communications that they obtained via a lawsuit brought under the Freedom of Information Act from the interrogation teams to their headquarters location, mainly focusing on the treatment of Mohammed. One of those cables states that he was “in sleep deprivation for 132 hours [and] most of that sleep deprivation has been in the standing position.” Another document says that Mohammed would spend a day facing “intensive waterboard sessions.”
Numerous outlets are reporting the reactions of people who lost loved ones in the attacks, and to say they are unfavorable toward the proposed plea agreements would be an understatement. Retired deputy fire chief in the NYFD Jim Riches, who lost his firefighter son Jimmy, expressed his anger at the fact that “those guys are still alive [and] our children are dead.”
Peter Brady’s father was killed in the attacks, and after receiving the letter, he stated that the process is supposed to hold “people responsible, and they are taking that away with this plea.” Another group of survivors said that any PTA would need to include a provision allowing their lawyers to interview Mohammed and the others about possible involvement in the attack by the Saudi Arabian government.
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