Photo: Barack Obama (Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama acknowledged Friday that U.S. officials “did some things that were wrong” in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values,” he said during an unscheduled session with reporters in the White House press room.
The president addressed the issue ahead of the imminent release of a declassified report from the Senate Intelligence Committee that is said to document the CIA’s use of waterboarding and other torture techniques during interrogations of terror suspects.
“When we engaged in some of these enhanced interrogation techniques - techniques that I believe, and I think any fair-minded person would believe, were torture - we crossed the line,” Obama said.
“And that needs to be understood. And accepted. And we have to, as a country, take responsibility for that so that hopefully we don’t do it again in the future,” he said.
At the same time, he sought to deflect criticism of the U.S. officials involved in the interrogations.
“It’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had,” the president said. “A lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots.”
Word that the report would be released soon followed an admission by CIA Director John Brennan that the agency had hacked into the computers of the Senate Intelligence Committee as the panel was reviewing evidence.