“We tortured some folks,” came the frank admission of Barack Obama.
President Obama on Friday admitted to what the world already knew – that in the uncertain post September 11 posture, when methodologies became blurred among unspeakable acts of terrorism, the CIA was authorized to torture al Qaeda detainees.
Greasing the release of a Senate report regarding enhanced interrogation techniques, the president opened with an atypical reflection on the regrets of the Executive Office – and the nation as a whole.
The full context of his address:
Even before I came into office, I was very clear, that in the immediate aftermath of 9-11, we did some things that were wrong. 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. I understand why it happened; I think it’s important when we look back to recall how afraid people were after the Twin Towers fell and the Pentagon had been hit and the plane in Pennsylvania had fallen and people did not know whether more attacks were imminent, and there was enormous pressure on our law enforcement and our national security teams to fry to deal with this. It’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had.
CBS News called Obama’s remarks “some of his most expansive comments to date about a controversial set of CIA practices that he banned after taking office.”
The 700-page Senate report harshly criticizes the CIA in their treatment of detainees. That being said, the report will “not accuse the CIA outright of ‘torture,’ an accusation that could have political, diplomatic, legal, and even criminal implications,” writes the Daily Beast.
The torture of suspected al Qaeda corroborators, carried out by Bush era officials, was a focus of Obama’s 2008 presidential push. His remarks on Friday about the torture were the most ardent to date, including his 2009 speech discussing “so-called enhanced interrogation techniques,” and “brutal methods.”
Writes CBS News:
Obama on Friday did not address two other central arguments of the soon-to-be-released Senate report – that the brutal interrogations didn't produce life-saving intelligence, and that the CIA lied to other elements of the U.S. government about exactly what it was doing.
Senator Ron Wyden (D – Ore.) said that “the American people will be profoundly disturbed about what will be revealed in this report.”