President Biden rejected certain conditions sought by five suspected 9/11 plotters, including the accused mastermind behind the attack, in exchange for guilty pleas.
A spokesperson for the National Security Council said Wednesday that Biden did not agree with the guarantees asked by the detainees — such as sparing them solitary confinement and providing medical treatment for alleged abuses in CIA custody.
However, sparing them the death penalty was still on the table.
“The President concurred with the Secretary of Defense’s recommendation not to accept the Joint Policy Principles that had been proposed by the 9-11 Defendants as a basis for plea negotiations,” the spokesperson said.
“The 9/11 attacks were the single worst assault on the United States since Pearl Harbor. The President does not believe that accepting the joint policy principles as a basis for a pre-trial agreement would be appropriate in these circumstances.
“The Administration is committed to ensuring that the military commissions process is fair and delivers justice to the victims, survivors, families, and those accused of crimes,” the spokesperson added.
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the alleged principal architect of the 9/11 attacks, and four other suspected terrorists being held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had demanded guarantees from the Biden administration that they would not be forced to serve their sentences in solitary confinement and continue to be allowed to eat and pray together if they were to plead guilty to terrorism charges, according to the New York Times.
The alleged terrorists also sought treatment for sleep disorders, brain injuries, gastrointestinal damage or other health issues that they claim were brought on by “enhanced interrogation techniques” used by CIA operatives while in custody.
Those conditions, referred to as Joint Policy Principles in court filings, were rejected by Biden. However, plea agreements that would remove the possibility of death sentences for the five men remain on the table, according to the outlet.
Some relatives of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the terror attacks expressed outrage when they were notified by the Biden administration last month that plea deals sparing the accused terrorists the death penalty were being considered.
Biden, 80, reportedly took no position on the prospect of eliminating the possibility of death sentences for the five men, according to the New York Times, a matter that will be determined by the Pentagon’s Office of the Convening Authority of the Military Commission.
The case involving Mohammed and the four other Guantanamo Bay detainees has been mired in legal disputes and delays, particularly concerning the treatment of the alleged terrorists during their four years in CIA custody before being transferred to the US detention facility in Cuba in 2006.
One of the accused plotters, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, was also found by a military medical board last month to be incompetent to stand trial or be offered a plea deal and has been excluded from negotiations.
No trial date has been set for the five suspected 9/11 conspirators.
The Trump administration had previously ruled out any plea bargains with the suspected terrorists.
Biden will not be participating in any observances at 9/11 memorial sites in New York City, Virginia or Pennsylvania, next week, opting instead to join service members and their families at a military base in Anchorage.