President Joe Biden is refusing to make medical treatment part of the plea deal for enemy combatants who were allegedly abused while being held first at CIA “black sites” and then at Guantanamo Bay.
As America marks 22 years since Islamic terrorists attacked the country on 9/11, killing nearly 3,000 people, lawyers for five suspected plotters — including accused mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed — are involved in ongoing negotiations with the U.S. government, seeking certain conditions in exchange for pleading guilty and receiving a maximum punishment of life in prison, according to The New York Times.
Included among these conditions, known as the “joint policy principles,” is no solitary confinement in sentencing and providing medical treatment for physical and psychological abuse that allegedly took place during enhanced interrogation by the CIA.
A National Security Council spokesman said in a statement last week that Biden refused the detainees’ requests — although sparing them the death penalty is apparently 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 spokesperson added. “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.”
More from The New York Times:
In talks with prosecutors, defense lawyers said Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the accused mastermind, and four other defendants wanted certain accommodations, including assurances they would not serve their sentences in solitary confinement and could instead continue to eat and pray communally — as they do now as detainees at Guantánamo Bay.
The prisoners also sought a civilian-run program to treat sleep disorders, brain injuries, gastrointestinal damage or other health problems they attribute to the agency’s brutal interrogation methods during their three to four years in C.I.A. custody before their transfer to Guantánamo Bay in 2006.
No trial date has been set for the five detainees over their alleged roles in the hijackings that took place on 9/11, but pretrial hearings have been underway at the U.S. military commission at Guantánamo Bay for more than a decade — the detainees were transferred to the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2006.
The Times noted that the case “has been complicated by the C.I.A.’s torture of the defendants in their first years of custody, which has raised questions about the admissibility of key evidence prosecutors want to use at trial and the risk of any death sentence being overturned on appeal.”
While Biden did not believe the proposals for a plea deal would be appropriate, he reportedly “took no position on the general notion that a plea deal could eliminate the possibility of death sentences,” with the newspaper noting that a senior Pentagon official, called a convening authority, oversees the cases and decides such questions at a military commission.
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