By Dan Christensen
Twenty-two years ago, the unthinkable happened. Al Qaeda terrorists hijacked and crashed four passenger jets on U.S. soil in a coordinated suicide attack that killed 2,976 men, women and children in New York City, at the Pentagon and in a Pennsylvania field.
The 19 hijackers are long dead. But for 20 years or more, five men accused of conspiring in the planning and execution of the 9/11 attacks have been in U.S custody – first, for about three years, as “high-value” detainees tortured by the Central Intelligence Agency and its affiliates at secret “black sites” around the world; ever since as prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station.
Yet in all that time Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the lead defendant and alleged 9/11 mastermind, and his capital case co-defendants have never been brought to trial before the Military Commission in Guantanamo that’s hearing their case – nor have they been allowed to speak publicly about what they know.
No trial date has ever been set. And proposed plea bargains that could take the death penalty off the table in exchange for pleading guilty budded publicly this spring but have reached an impasse. The New York Times reported last week that President Biden rejected a list of conditions proposed by the defendants, which “lessens the likelihood of reaching a deal.”
So, 22 years after 9/11, justice remains elusive for thousands of victims and their families. And the U.S. government’s failure to deliver that justice – because of policy failures like allowing torture, excessive secrecy, agency screw-ups and duplicity – has amplified their anguish, while a lack of transparency about Saudi Arabia’s apparent involvement in facilitating the attacks has sewn bitterness and distrust.
This article originally appeared here and was republished with permission.