Justice Department officials, as well as experts outside the government, say they know the answer: given the enormous number of pending civil cases involving extraordinary renditions and Bagram/Gitmo/Guantanamo interrogations, if an officer of the executive branch acknowledges that the memos released constitute "torture," they're just provided the plaintiffs in these cases with a powerful weapon to use when the government tries to quash the cases on a variety of grounds. State Secrets Privilege? Judges are quite deferential to it. But now the government admitted to torture!
President Obama said so. The privilege doesn't count as much if the executive branch is conceding a basic fact to their legal interlocutors. Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder can say things like: "We won't torture." "Torture is abhorrent." They can't say things like: "We tortured 100 detainees, and we're sorry for it." The Obama administration has a vested interest in winning as many of the current cases as possible -- even when the facts of those cases are distasteful. That's why they're avoiding the T word. Is that right? Fair? Ethical?