After 9/11 ‘we tortured some folks’, Obama says

US senate report to suggest harsh CIA interrogations unnecessary -officials

US president Barack Obama said the CIA “’tortured some folks’ after the September 11th, 2001 attacks. Photoraph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

US president Barack Obama said the CIA “’tortured some folks’ after the September 11th, 2001 attacks. Photoraph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sat, Aug 2, 2014, 12:02

US president Barack Obama said the CIA “tortured some folks” after the September 11th, 2001, attacks, and that the White House had handed over to Congress a report about an investigation into “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

“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,” Mr Obama told a White House news conference.

Mr Obama’s comment was a reaffirmation of his decision to ban the use of interrogation techniques such as waterboarding shortly after he took office in January 2009.

The administration of president George W. Bush, Mr Obama’s predecessor, authorized the use of harsh questioning techniques of militant detainees in the wake of the 9/11 attacks after deciding they did not amount to torture.

Mr Obama told reporters the techniques were used because the United States was afraid more attacks were imminent.

“It’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had,” he said. “A lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots.”

Obama also said he had full confidence in CIA Director John Brennan despite a revelation the agency spied on a US Senate committee investigating its interrogation techniques.

Officials said the senate intelligence committee was unlikely to release the report to the public without some additional review. “A preliminary review of the report indicates there have been significant redactions. We need additional time to understand the basis for these redactions and determine their justification. Therefore the report will be held until further notice and released when that process is completed,” democratic senator Dianne Feinstein, the committee’s chair, said.

The voluminous report does not state that the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” - which included measures such as “waterboarding,” or simulated drowning, on captured al Qaeda militants - produced no information of value whatsoever, the officials said.

But it asserts that such tactics yielded no information that would have been “otherwise unavailable” to spy agencies through normal interrogations aimed at foiling further plots in the aftermath of the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, the officials said.

Committee investigators also concluded that the agency misled other executive branch agencies and Congress by claiming that only by using harsh methods did the agency achieve other counter-terrorism breakthroughs that otherwise would not have been possible.

The report will criticise some CIA officials by name, the officials said. The committee reached its conclusions based on detailed examinations of the cases of around 20 militants who were subjected to harsh interrogations while detained by the CIA, the officials said.

Reuters