Twenty-two years after the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil, relatives of many victims still feel they have not received justice.
“We have no accountability and no justice for the murder of our loved ones,” said Terry Strada, who lost her husband, Tom, and about 20 friends in the North World Trade Center tower on 9/11.
Strada says the anniversary is extremely difficult every year. But this year, she says it’s even worse because of the Pentagon letter sent to victims’ families last month.
It informs them that plea deals are being explored for the alleged mastermind behind the terrorist attacks and his four co-conspirators. It is demanding that they “accept criminal responsibility for their actions and plead guilty in exchange for not receiving the death penalty.”
Strada said, “I am deeply troubled by the idea that after waiting 20 years for a trial, this could all be taken away from us.”
Brett Eagleson, who lost his father on 9/11, says a plea deal would “suppress the truth” and that he wants to hear what the five defendants “have to say about who helped them, Who supported them, what the Saudis did” The government had a role in 9/11.
Relatives of other victims, such as Terry Rockefeller, whose sister died on 9/11, have long supported plea agreements As a way to finally get a resolution on the matter.
The prosecution of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other Guantanamo Bay detainees has long been dogged by legal challenges – particularly over the fact that the men were repeatedly tortured during interrogation in CIA custody in the early 2000s .
Legal expert Jonathan Hafetz says that the creation of torture and flawed military tribunals in the wake of 9/11 has made plea negotiations the only way to resolve cases, while essentially remaining defendants remain in prison. To die without making any judgments about their lives and against them.”
Last week, President Biden rejected a list of proposed conditions sought by five Guantanamo Bay defendants — but negotiations are not over.
In a statement to Scripps News, the White House says it is “committed to ensuring that the military commission process is fair and that victims, survivors, families, and those accused of crimes receive justice.”
Pre-trial hearings at the war court at Guantanamo Bay have been halted while officials assess the mental competency of one of the defendants to stand trial. The hearing is scheduled to resume on September 18.