U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is opposing a proposed plea deal for the five “masterminds” of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that would take the death penalty off the table during sentencing.

Cruz (R–TX) and U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R–NY) sent a letter, obtained by the Washington Examiner, to U.S.  Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. They asked for answers about why the Biden administration has “delayed justice.”

In their letter, Cruz and Malliotakis wrote of the possibility that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others behind 9/11 might escape trial and even the death penalty through some form of a plea deal.

However, on August 1, 2023, 9/11 victims’ family members reportedly received a letter “soliciting questions or comments about the possibility of a plea agreement allowing the accused to escape the death penalty.”

Cruz and Malliotakis pointed out that President Joe Biden has taken an anti-death penalty stance. During his presidential campaign, Biden pledged to “work to pass legislation to eliminate the death penalty at the federal level, and incentivize states to follow the federal example.”

The letter states that the Biden administration’s decision when it comes to the discussion of a plea deal with the terrorists “appears not to be based on the strength of the evidence or the wishes of the victim’s families, but rather a purely political choice, designed to appease the fringe left of his party.”

Both Cruz and Malliotakis pointed out that the U.S. government promised the victims’ families closure: “They ‘were told, and were promised, that we would bring these people responsible to justice, and we expect that to happen,’” they wrote.

“The September 11th plotters are mass murderers, deserving of the ultimate punishment. Indeed, if there are persons walking the face of the Earth who are deserving of the death penalty, it is these five men. After over two decades of patiently waiting, the victims’ families deserve closure.

The letter concludes with the duo posing six questions to be answered by Austin on or before September 15, 2023.

  1. Why is the administration, through your offices, not working to advance this case and allow prosecutors to try the accused?
  2. What exactly constitutes a “policy principle?”
  3. What officials are involved with “policy principle” discussions?
  4. Why has the administration delayed justice by requiring the prosecution and defense to engage in thirteen status conferences discussing the policy principles?
  5. Why is the decision to allow death as a possible sentence so difficult, given the facts of the underlying offense?
  6. Who from the Department of Justice, White House Counsel’s Office, or Executive Office of the President did you, your staff, or any member of the relevant Military Commission, speak with regarding whether to seek the death penalty in this case?

“Any outcome short of the death penalty is unacceptable and constitutes a total failure by the Department of Defense,” Cruz posted on social media. “Justice must be served.”

Soli Rice

A journalist for Texas Scorecard, Soli is a new Texan with a passion for politics. She's excited to hone her writing skills and help spread truth to Texans.