This is nothing less than a watershed moment at Guantanamo Bay.
A Military Judge has ruled that Guantanamo detainees may receive reduced sentences on account of being tortured. It could effectively take the death penalty off the table for all detainees.
The detainee in question has plead guilty and is awaiting sentencing. He faces a combined potential of 19 years, but this ruling could potentially cut that in half. And because the defendant has been held at Guantanamo for 17 years, he essentially will be eligible for release immediately upon sentencing.
A good decision and the first time the Military Commissions have dealt with the issue of torture head on. A history of torture should be a heavy mitigating factor at sentencing for all Guantanamo defendants.
Is torture to get information that could very well save lives ever justified and permissible? That is the question? The higher side of our country says no…never but the reality of the potential lives saved and the egregiousness of the act committed by the actor that would be tortured creates the question…again…and again…and again. The question becomes a damned if you do and damned if you don’t type of thing. What ever the judge’s ruling, I doubt it will truly impact this question because if it’d be done, it’ll just be done even more secretly, outside the country, somewhere in some dark place.
It has been done, secretly in black site locations around the globe.
And it was the REAL justification for Guantanamo Bay in the first place. They knew these people would spill the beans about the torture in Federal Court, so they concocted Guantanamo Bay to try to keep things covered up. But ultimately it didn’t work out that way and court rulings paved the way for the allegations to make their way into the public view.
The Judge’s decision essentially involves post facto relief for the detainees. You can’t undo the torture and other unlawful treatment, but you can compensate by reducing their sentences in a proportionate manner.
It is really the only compensation the court can offer to try to offset the unlawful treatment.
And it does make the point to the United States Government that there are ramifications for ignoring the rule of law.
Clearly, the United States has treated the detainees unlawfully and this is the court’s best solution as to compensation.