One of the most disgusting rituals in the criminal law is the judge’s questioning of a defendant who offers to plead guilty. If he says he’s been pressured into pleading, the deal is off. So if he has been pressured, the law in effect requires him to lie, and requires the judge to pretend to believe the lie, for the plea to be accepted. (Similarly, confessions extracted under torture always include a statement that they were made entirely voluntarily.)
I suppose if you’re facing a military tribunal and the judge disqualifies two of your three lawyers on the eve of trial, leaving you only with the one who has already been threatened with prosecution himself for representing you too zealously and daring to criticize the judge, the Secretary of Defense, and the President, you’re well-advised to plead guilty if you can get any sort of a deal at all. And of course if you don’t say that your plea was voluntary and that the dismissal of two-thirds of your legal team had nothing to do with it, the bargain is no good. (No doubt it was only coincidence that the plea came on the same day as the exclusion of the lawyers.)
Try not to puke when the administration claims Hicks’s plea as a vindication of the military commissions process. He’s quite probably guilty of something, though apparently not of anything that was a crime at the time he did it. But the fact that the prosecution was willing to make a bargain when the deck was obviously stacked against the defense suggests that the case against him was actually pretty weak.