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Pete Buttigieg opposes death penalty for ‘defenseless’ terrorists, including 9/11 mastermind

Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaking with attendees at the 2019 Iowa Federation of Labor Convention hosted by the AFL-CIO at the Prairie Meadows Hotel in Altoona, Iowa. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
October 02, 2019

Democratic Presidential candidate and South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg has come out in opposition to the death penalty for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the man accused of masterminding the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The 37-year-old Buttigieg offered his views on the death penalty, from a religious perspective, hoping to win over disaffected Christian conservatives. In an interview with The Hill published Wednesday, Buttigieg said he would abolish the death penalty entirely, and when asked if that view extends to the 9/11 mastermind, he said yes.

“I do believe that the moral consequence of killing somebody who is defenseless for any reason goes against certainly what I’ve been taught about the way we’re supposed to treat human life,” Buttigieg said.

When asked about the mastermind behind the attacks that crashed hijacked airliners into the twin World Trade Center towers in New York and into the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and killed around 3,000 people, Buttigieg said “If you mean it, you mean it.”

“There are people who may deserve to die. I just don’t know anybody who deserves to kill them,” he said.

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A Jan. 11, 2021 start-of-trial date was recently set for Mohammed and four of the other architects of the terrorist attacks. The court trial would begin nearly 20 years after the terrorist attacks that initiated further conflict through the Global War on Terror

If elected president, Buttigieg would hold the power to issue a commuted sentence, substituting a lower penalty for a federal offender, or even issue a pardon for a federal offense entirely.

Buttigieg — who was raised Catholic and now attends an Episcopalian church service with his husband Chasten — has argued that many religious conservatives who voted for Trump are actually supporting policies that run counter to their Christian faith.

“There’s just so many people in America who are sitting in the pews thinking, wait a minute, am I supposed to be on board with family separation, with policies that benefit the wealthiest only, with the behavior of a president like this one, and wondering who’s going to speak to them,” he told the Hill.

He said the Democratic party is very concerned about the separation of church and state and he wants to make sure his appeals to religious people are geared towards all religions, and not any one in particular.

Buttigieg isn’t the only Democratic presidential candidate that has pushed for greater leniency on U.S. prisoners. During a CNN town hall in April, the independent Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders came out in support of restoring voting rights for convicted felons, including Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Tsarnaev was convicted in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that resulted in three deaths and around 260 injuries.

“I think the right to vote is inherent to our democracy, yes even for terrible people,” Sanders said in April.

Following Sanders’ remarks, fellow Democratic candidate and California Senator Kamala Harris also appeared to support such a proposal for restoring voting rights to convicted felons and said “we should have that conversation.” She later described the issue as a “complex” matter, appearing to soften her initial view, according to Fox News.