The problem is that law must translate our ethical standards into rigorously precise language. Sure, we can say that torturing these prisoners was wrong, but how do you write a law that says that lands we lease fall under our own sovereignty? Guantanamo is leased from Cuba. If we pass a law that says that our laws apply to lands that we lease from other countries, then some of them will claim that we are violating their sovereignty.

This is a mess, because there is no law specifying the legal status of Guantanamo. In some cases where we lease lands, we negotiate some sort of deal regarding the applicable law. I don’t know what our lease with Cuba says, but apparently Cuban law doesn’t apply there. Perhaps Guantanamo operates under only American military law — but even American military law forbids torture. I am satisfied, however, that since the question was adjudicated all the way up to the Supreme Court, the Bush Administration was able to find a loophole to exploit.

The sad thing is that this kind of thing is supposed to be addressed by Congress. They should have passed a law specifying that Guantanamo falls under the jurisdiction of American courts. But Congress is barely functional and addresses only the most pressing, immediate issues.

Master of Science, Physics, 1975. Computer Game Designer. Interactive Storytelling.

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