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Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Call on Biden Not to Spare Death Penalty for 9/11 Terrorists

Smoke rises over the New York Skyline from the scene of the World Trade Center Attack, as seen from a tugboat evacuating people from Manhattan to New Jersey. (Photo by Hiro Oshima/WireImage)
Smoke rises over the New York Skyline from the scene of the World Trade Center Attack, as seen from a tugboat evacuating people from Manhattan to New Jersey. (Photo by Hiro Oshima/WireImage)

On Tuesday, a group of Republican and Democrat House Representatives called on the Biden administration to prevent a potential plea agreement for several accused Sept. 11 terrorists.

The potential agreement would spare the death penalty for terrorist mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other defendants.

The lawmakers spearheading this initiative include GOP Rep. Michael Lawler from New York, who drafted the note, Democrat Rep. Pat Rylan, and 32 other Republican members of Congress, including NY Reps. Elise Stefanik, Nicole Malliotakis, Nick Langworthy, Andrew Garbarino, Anthony D'Esposito, Claudia Tenney and Nick Lalota.

In a letter dated Aug. 23 to the Biden administration, lawmakers explained that such actions would "be a grave miscarriage of justice, especially for the families of the 2,977 innocent civilians and first responders we lost that fateful day."

"We owe it to the victims and their families to deliver justice – and that should mean the death penalty for these murderers," the letter stated. The lawmakers called on the Biden White House not to enter "any pre-trial agreements which would remove the possibility of the death penalty and to work to conclude this process to see justice meted out on those who have committed these evil acts."

Representative Lawler noted the 22nd anniversary of 9/11, calling the administration's potential consideration of negotiating a plea deal with the terrorist masterminds as "outrageous" and "deeply disappointing."

The United States Department of Defense (DoD) sent a letter to the families of the 9/11 victims, outlining the measures currently being considered where the five terrorists would "accept criminal responsibility for their actions and plead guilty in exchange for not receiving the death penalty."

The prosecution by the U.S. government against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and several others held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has been troubled by repeated delays and legal disputes revolving around the legal ramifications of the interrogation under enhanced interrogation they underwent while in CIA custody.

The letter by the lawmakers informed families about the U.S. Office of the Chief Prosecutor negotiating and considering "entering into pre-trial agreements."

While the plea agreement has not been finalized and might not be, "it’s possible that a pre-trial agreement in this case would remove the possibility of the death penalty," the letter said.

As of right now, there is no official trial date.

Relatives of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the terror attacks expressed outrage over the prospect of ending the case short of a verdict.

Prosecutors from the Pentagon promised to consider the views of the victim's families and present them to the military authorities, who could make the final decision on accepting any plea agreement.

The 9/11 hearings are on pause while military officials investigate whether one of the defendants is competent to stand trial.

The hearings will resume Sept. 18.

Related Story: Defendants in 9/11 Attacks May Escape Death Penalty with Plea Negotiations, U.S. Tells Families

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