Republican lawmakers are turning up the heat against the Pentagon's potential plea deal that could mean no 9/11 architects or co-conspirators ever face the death penalty.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R.-Texas, and Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R.-N.Y., sent a letter Monday to Secretary of State Lloyd Austin calling a potential plea deal "completely unacceptable," adding it would rob victims' families of a "full measure of justice."
"Make no mistake, any outcome short of the death penalty for the September 11th plotters would be completely unacceptable," the letter states.
"These families have already been robbed of their loved ones, they should not also be robbed of the full measure of justice in this case. The September 11th plotters are mass murderers, deserving of the ultimate punishment. Indeed, if there are persons walking the face of the Earth who are deserving of the death penalty, it is these five men."
Cruz told Fox News Digital in a statement Tuesday if the terrorist attacks never face trial, "the American people and the victims of this horrific attack will be denied the justice and closure they rightly deserve."
"Any outcome short of a trial followed by the death penalty would constitute a total failure of leadership by the Department of Defense," Cruz said.
He added he and Malliotakis will be "working to ensure that the Biden administration is responsive to congressional oversight, especially as we consider government funding."
"It’s been 22 years since the September 11th terrorist attacks. My colleagues & I are telling @POTUS that plea deals for the terrorists responsible for those horrific attacks are unacceptable. These murderers deserve the death penalty - NOTHING less," Malliotakis posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, Monday.
Brett Eagleson, president of Justice 911, a grassroots organization made up of 9/11 survivors and victims' families, told Fox News Digital Tuesday it's a step forward to see lawmakers sound the alarm on the plea deal, but much more still needs to be done to ensure justice is served.
"This is an absurd betrayal of justice," Eagleson said of the negotiations. "This is all about the fact that they're entering into plea deals, which would allow these five inmates to avoid a public trial — and we deserve better as Americans."
"We are families who have been fighting for 22 years for the real story for truth and accountability. And allowing these detainees to take plea deals is just another step in this 22-year-long odyssey of our government trying to keep the real information about who committed 9/11 and who (helped) those hijackers under lock and key," he said.
Cruz and Malliotakis join Rep. Mike Lawler, R.-N.Y., House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., and Rep. Pat Ryan, D-N.Y., who sent a letter to the Biden administration last week criticizing the possible plea deal.
The backlash comes as the victims' families of the 9/11 attack received a letter Aug. 1 from the Pentagon informing them the federal government may consider a plea deal for "principal architect" Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four co-conspirators seeking to avoid the death penalty. Fox News Digital received a copy of the letter, which was first obtained by The Associated Press.
In response, more than 2,000 family members of those killed in the 9/11 attacks fired back in a letter, saying, without a trial, it would "continue to keep the information provided to his [Mohammed] legal team — information that no doubt would shed light on the identity of the 9/11 conspirators — secret and hidden not only from the 9/11 Families but from the American public."
The negotiations, which began more than a year ago and have not concluded, come amid allegations al Qaeda prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay endured torture, including waterboarding, at the hands of the CIA. These allegations have raised concerns about the potential impact on prosecutors' cases.
Fox News Digital has reached out to the White House for comment.