CIA interrogators tortured their prisoners and these tortures were far worse than anything revealed at Gitmo or Abu Ghraib. That is the certain conclusion that can be reached by Panetta's statement that releasing CIA interrogation evidence would result in "exceptionally grave damage to the national security" and give al-Qaeda "propaganda it could use to recruit and raise funds."
If the CIA interrogations were less sever than waterboarding or the Abu Ghraib photos revealing it would result in nothing. Indeed, it would go a long way to proving that the United States is no longer the outlaw nation it was under Bush/Cheney. The only reason to keep this information hidden is that the CIA interrogations were orders of magnitude worse than anything we have seen before. The only reasons to hide this are:
- It would show that Abu Ghraib was standard operating procedure.
- John Yoo's torture memos were routinely exceeded.
- The evidence would show the rape of men, women, and childern.
- Electronic torture was used.
- There is clear evidence that people were tortured to death.
Unless the truth is so outrageous that the American people would vomit in their oatmeal if they knew and the truth would threaten to tear the nation apart.
Unless the truth is so vile that the world will demand war crimes trials for every American involved from President Bush to the lowliest CIA gang rapist.
Leon Panetta is revealing more by hiding the truth than he realizes. If President Obama agrees with Panetta then Obama is much less of a man than I thought him to be.
In a Democracy the people have an absolute right to know what has been done in their name.
Addendum: There is one other possibility. The CIA has made a credible threat to assassinate President Obama if evidence of their interrogation tortures are released.