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Plea Negotiations For 9/11 Mastermind Mohammed Begin

Military prosecutors have begun plea negotiations at Guantanamo Bay with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-defendants accused of orchestrating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a deal in which the defendants would admit guilt and prosecutors would forgo pursuit of a death sentence, defense attorneys said. The negotiations could end a legal saga that has lasted nearly two decades, beginning with the capture in Pakistan of Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the attacks, reports the Wall Street Journal. Mohammed and other detainees were allegedly tortured in overseas “black site” interrogation centers and were finally held in the high-security prison at Guantanamo Bay, where a seemingly irreconcilable conflict between fairness to the accused and deference to the Central Intelligence Agency’s secrets has stymied trials for years. The discussions may be different for each detainees, including Walid bin Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh and Mustafa al Hawsawi. Figures considered more peripheral to the plot may seek more lenient terms, including the possibility of eventual release or the chance to serve their sentences in other countries. In the past, plans to try the Sept. 11 defendants in federal court or negotiate plea deals were scuttled after political blowback or opposition from senior officials. Many legal questions remain unresolved, including which constitutional rights apply in military commissions. The prosecutions remain mired in pretrial hearings that have focused on the degree to which evidence of the defendants’ treatment in CIA custody can be weighed in evaluation of the government’s case and in mitigation of potential punishment.

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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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