Gitmo detainees may be allowed to plead

President Barack Obama is said to be considering allowing Gitmo detainees to plead guilty to their capital crimes, according to reports on the New York Times and Fox News.

The changes described would effectively make it unnecessary to try the cases in open court and could prevent the release of information that the US considers classified, the Associated Press is reporting.

Specifically, the guilty pleas, if allowed, would allow the detainees to be sentenced to death, thus achieving their stated goal of martyrdom, without testifying about sensitive US interrogation techniques.

Plea bargaining does require defendants to waive three rights protected by the Fifth and Sixth Amendments: the right to a jury trial, the right against self-incrimination, and the right to confront hostile witnesses. The Supreme Court, however, has repeatedly rejected arguments that plea bargaining is unconstitutional. See, e.g., Brady v. United States, 397 U.S. 742 (1970). But it has held that defendants’ guilty pleas must be voluntary, and that defendants may only plead guilty if they know the consequences of doing so. See McCarthy v. United States 394 U.S. 459 (1969).

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Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.