Op-Ed

Enough: Negotiate a settlement with the 9/11 masterminds

Smoke billows from the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, before they collapsed after terrorists attacked.
Smoke billows from the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, before they collapsed after terrorists attacked. Associated Press

As the surviving spouse of a 9/11 murder victim, Sareve Dukat, I want closure.

I was an observer at the Guantánamo military commission pretrial hearings of the five defendants in the 9/11 hijackings and mass murder litigation in February 2015. Having listened to the litany of legal maneuvering, and having followed the proceedings for almost two years since I was there, the posturing continues ad nauseam.

The proceedings are elaborate performances that have little to do with guilt or innocence. At this point I am more interested in closure than in vengeance. Nothing will ever bring my wife back.

I readily acknowledge that the pretrial hearings are designed to address items that could otherwise preclude an actual trial before the Commission, however, they appear to have very little, if anything, to do with the actual charges and legal proceedings themselves.

I understand the desire of Brigadier General Mark Martins, the chief prosecutor of the convening authority to protect classified information in order to safeguard both U.S. security and the identities of those individuals charged with such safeguarding.

I also understand the defense teams’ desire for full disclosure and transparency — they want to know who did what to whom during the years in the “black holes” — but I question the value of such information, other than to satisfy intellectual curiosity. There is little doubt in my mind, or in the minds of most people, that none of the 9/11 defendants will ever be released, regardless of the outcome of the commission proceedings.

Rather than continue this costly and time-consuming drama, consideration should be given to a structured, negotiated settlement. I propose taking the death penalty off the table, and having the self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his associates — Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarak bin Attash, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Ammar al-Baluchi and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al-Hawsawi — plead guilty to the murders they committed. I think the defendants and their attorneys would be amenable to a structured settlement. While I am not an attorney and do not know how to accomplish this from a legal perspective, I am sure the highly qualified and motivated professionals on both sides can figure out a way to get this done. It would be in everyone’s best interest to find a means of closure.

There is a legal maxim “Justice delayed is justice denied.” Regardless of how or why it happened, any semblance of timely justice has long passed. It is time to move forward to create a world filled with random acts of kindness rather than continuing to relive the tragic events of 9/11.

Joel Shapiro is a real-estate finance consultant. He lives in Manhattan.

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