How Omar Khadr’s military commission ends: with an eight-year plea deal… and a 40-year sentence that the commission’s members decided that Khadr should serve but won’t.

According to the Department of Defense, here’s how it’s most likely to actually play out in Canada, where Khadr will serve out his time after another year at Guantanamo Bay:

In these circumstances, the [U.S. government] understands and acknowledges that Khadr would be eligible to apply for parole in Canada after serving one-third of his sentence, and may be eligible for statutory release in Canada after serving two-thirds of the time remaining after his return to Canada.

As best I can understand it, the logic here is that the commission members want to go on record as stating that Khadr ought to have gotten 40 years for throwing the grenade that killed SFC Christopher Speer and helping plant IEDs in Afghanistan. But doesn’t that then stand as an implicit criticism of the Office of Military Commissions for negotiating Khadr’s plea deal? If this is ultimately an attempt by the government to save face for detaining and sentencing someone who was 15 years old at the time of his crimes, it’s not the most intuitive method. What am I missing?

Update: Don’t miss Moe Davis, who used to be the chief military-commissions prosecutor, responding to this post.