Buttigieg: No, I wouldn't execute 9/11 plotter KSM

It’s no secret that plenty of people (from both sides of the aisle, actually) are opposed to the death penalty for a variety of reasons. But apparently some of our Democratic candidates for the presidency are really, really opposed to it. Add to that list Mayor Pete Buttigieg. During an interview with The Hill, Buttigieg was asked about this subject and in a follow-up question, the reporter wanted to know if there were any exceptions to his opposition. For example, how about 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed? Would Buttigieg be willing to see a needle stuck in the terrorist’s arm? Nope. Not even for the infamous KSM.

Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg is so opposed to the death penalty he would not support executing 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

The Hill asked Buttigieg about executing Mohammed, who is currently detained at Guantanamo Bay pending a death penalty trial scheduled to begin January 2021. Buttigieg responded that even this case did not merit execution.

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

This is not the first time Buttigieg has opposed the death penalty.

The Mayor believes that capital punishment is a “discriminatory” practice and has gone so far as calling for a constitutional amendment to ban the practice.

If that’s his position as a Christian I can respect his stance, providing he’s consistent about it. On that point, it’s worth noting that Buttigieg supports a woman’s ability to have an abortion all the way through the third trimester and right up until the baby’s delivery due date. So perhaps his opposition to the intentional termination of any human life is a bit conditional.

Still, as I said, I can understand the moral position of those who believe that nobody should take another human life. We can debate whether the Sixth Commandment actually meant thou shalt not kill or thou shalt not murder (a key distinction) until the cows come home, but it’s still a defensible position.

I’ve also heard less convincing arguments from people who claim that the death penalty is pointless because it doesn’t act as a deterrent. I happen to disagree, partly because it’s definitely a deterrent for the person heading to the gallows. The recidivism rate among criminals who are put to death remains at precisely zero. But beyond that, even if there is no way to measure it, I continue to believe that there are some felons out there who decided not to pull the trigger at the last minute because they didn’t want to end up on death row.

But if you’re someone who leaves any amount of wiggle room in that discussion, you probably allow for some exceptions. Can you kill in self-defense? How about soldiers fighting in defense of their country? Can they kill the enemy? And if we’re going to make any exceptions at all for state-sanctioned executions, surely terrorists who engineer brazen attacks that take the lives of thousands should make the list, shouldn’t they?

I don’t expect Buttigieg to either gain or lose any ground on this question. And given the fact that he remains stuck in single digits in most polls and his support among black voters in his party is effectively zero, it probably won’t matter all that much anyway. But now that the subject has been broached yet again, the frontrunners will likely need to be weighing in on it. Are we really taking the death penalty off the table even for terrorists?

Something tells me that this isn’t as popular of an opinion among the voters as Mayor Pete might think. The fact is, there are some people who just need killing. And KSM should be near the top of that list.

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