President Obama: U.S. ‘crossed a line’ and tortured after 9/11 attacks

President Obama

President Obama

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama acknowledged Friday that the United States “crossed a line” and tortured al Qaeda detainees after the 9/11 terror attacks.

The comments at a White House news conference were the President’s strongest on the controversial subject since he came into office denouncing what he described as the Bush years of torturing alleged terrorists, also known as “enhanced interrogation.”

“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 a 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.”

In the remarks, Obama was referring to a soon-to-be-released Senate Intelligence Committee report detailing the CIA’s controversial interrogation and detention program following the 9/11 attacks.

The document is a nearly 700 page summary of the full 6,800 page report that was approved a year and a half ago by a committee sharply divided along party lines.

Senators on the committee have said the report is critical of the CIA’s treatment of terrorism suspects, saying it amounted to torture — an allegation CIA officials have denied. It also finds that those harsh interrogation techniques did not help disrupt future terrorist attacks as many in intelligence community have claimed.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein said later Friday that the report’s public release will be delayed because of “significant redactions” by the CIA.

“We need additional time to understand the basis for these redactions and determine their justification,” the California Democrat said in a statement. “Therefore, the report will be held until further notice and released when that process is completed.”

The report was returned to the committee Friday. Its creation has been controversial, with the CIA director apologizing after admitting that the agency spied on computers used by Senate staffers who prepared it. A public version was expected to be released as early as next week.

In January 2009, President Obama issued an executive order disavowing torture and established a Special Task Force on Interrogation and Transfer Policies. Details of those findings have never been made public.

“After I took office, one of the first things I did was to ban some of the extraordinary interrogation techniques that are the subject of that report,” Obama said Friday. “And my hope is that this report reminds us once again that, you know, the character of our country has to be measured in part not by what we do when things are easy, but what we do when things are hard.”

In April 2009, Obama reiterated his position that waterboarding amounted to torture and “violates our ideals and our values.”

“That’s why I put an end to these practices,” he said at the time. “I am absolutely convinced it was the right thing to do — not because there might not have been information that was yielded by these various detainees who were subjected to this treatment, but because we could have gotten this information in other ways, in ways that were consistent with our values, in ways that were consistent with who we are.”

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Filed in: News

23 comments

  • Julio

    Obozo is right, give terrorists lollypops and they’ll give information on return! Sure! What a disgrace!

  • Reuven Wachtfogel

    “I put an end to these practices… because we could have gotten this information in other ways.” So in the future, in cases where there is no other way to get necessary life and death information, Obama has ensured that our hands will be tied? But isn’t that just … ummm… stupid?

  • Hank

    As a youngster, I used to extract information from my kid brother and friends by tickling the hell out of them! I bet if we combine that tactic along with providing them a great meal afterwards, we will have them terrorist hostages singing like canaries! I wish our intelligence community was as wise as our president and had the same sense of reality.

  • Chris

    Those of you blinded by 24, get real. Torture isn’t justifiable even in time sensitive cases, but waterboarding detainees who have no significant operational data is completely beyond the pale. Humane interrogation is far more effective in those cases, doesn’t create martyrs for the opposition, and doesn’t besmirch our national reputation. Kudos to the committee for disclosing the facts, instead of covering up one of our most shameful national failures – which is also in line with the reputation we are trying to live up to.

  • tiJeffery L.Copeland

    We, the government, have crossed the line, most recently with unrelenting drone attacks, KILLING non combatants, innocent woman and children, seems a little more harsh and, I don’t know, war crime ish issue for current President? A little self righteous there big guy!!

  • Grandma talking !

    Once Pelosi calms down, Obama should talk to her, since she’s one of the people on the oversight committee who approved these interrogation techniques. (She had to be reminded in 2009 after she said she would go after the people who approved them, after which she clammed up.)

  • Pay attention sheep

    This President’s comments makes you wonder whose side is he own anyway. How about some sympathy for all the victims of 9/11 rather than the terrorists who cut off American’s heads and blow up women and children. It is way past time for the President to get a checkup since he has already checked out.

  • Pay attention

    Obama has moved from an embarrassment to a dangerous enemy spokesperson. These weren’t “folks,” these were enemy combatants. Listening to Obama’s speeches is torture. We, and everyone else has used “torture” in war. Is it right? I don’t know, but for the president to say what he says is criminal. We made a mistake in 08 and repeated it 12; let’s not do this again. We need to vet the person who we choose to be the leader. He gives “aid and comfort to the enemy.”

  • Think

    People that think you know ? Want to make a wager? I can produce many reports not from Fox ,from CIA and military reports it did work . Before you make the wager I suggest you look up the info gotten from the AQ leader that prevented American deaths . After looking that up put your money where your mouth is

  • true

    Listen people Water up your nose is not torture. You f-n liberal cry babies have made the world a far more dangerous place in just 5 years. AQ and other terrorist groups have grown 9 fold since 2009 and our border is wide open allowing anyone to enter with a contagious illness or bomb.

  • Mike

    Of course our Muslim president wouldn’t want the US torturing “his people”!!!!

    He is a disgrace to all Americans.

  • Thomas Noell

    Please note that NOT ONE Islamic terrorist attack occurred on American soil post-9/11 during those “evil Bush/Cheney years”, even though such carnage was since around the world in London, Madrid, Bali, and many other locations across the globe. That all changed in 2009 after Obama became president and stopped the successful policy that ended when Islamic terrorism returned to the American mainland at Fort Hood in 2009 and in Boston in 2013.

  • Joseph

    Deflect, deflect, deflect. When all else fails, we’ll blame it on Bush! What a joke … so glad people are starting to open their eyes to the damage that is being done to America. November’s elections are absolutely critical.

      • One who knows his rights.

        Freedom of speach MR. PERFECT, Need i remind you what one of our inalienable rights were when this great nation was founded. Cannot be prosecuted for ones opinion. Especially when one;s opinion is spoken out load.

  • Hughey

    Wow…..I suppose our useless President is trying to protect all of his fellow terrorists before he is impeached!!!!!

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