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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Washington (AFP) – President Barack Obama acknowledged Friday that U.S. officials had “tortured some folks” in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, but urged they not be judged too harshly.

The U.S. administration is expected to release a declassified Senate report in the coming days that will detail abuses by intelligence agents targeting extremist groups in the wake of the attacks.

“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,” Obama told reporters.

“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.”

Apparently preparing the ground for the report, which lawmakers say they expect to be made public with days, Obama said intelligence personnel had been under extreme pressure in 2001 and after.

“People did not know whether more attacks were imminent and there was enormous pressure on our law enforcement and our national security teams to try to deal with this,” he said.

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

“But having said all that, we did some things that were wrong, and that’s what that report reflects,” he added.

“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.”

The Central Intelligence Agency has long faced allegations that its “enhanced interrogation techniques,” used between 2002 and 2006 as it hunted Al-Qaeda operatives, amounted to illegal rights abuses.

The Senate probe has also generated a side scandal of its own, following CIA chief John Brennan’s admission this week that his officers improperly penetrated the computers of congressional investigators.

Brennan has faced calls for his resignation, but Obama said that he retained “full confidence” in him.

AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski

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  • Sand_Cat

    By his use of the word “we,” Obama shows he takes responsibility for the actions of the nation – good or bad – even when they were taken by his predecessors and political opponents. Try and find that in any GOP speech.

    • angelsinca
      • Sand_Cat

        Don’t have time to read at the moment. I’ll see about it later. What I did scan was a lot of whining about taxes, debt, and his resentment about being called the masses in a speech defending Barry Goldwater, a conservative who actually had some integrity rather than dodging responsibility for his actions by saying he “didn’t remember.”
        And don’t give me crap about Alzheimer’s. Maybe there is some justice in the world that his constant excuse came true.
        Never heard Ronnie accept responsibility for all the murders in Central America financed by his administration, or much of anything else, for that matter.

        • angelsinca

          You neglect your own challenge that the term ‘we’ could not be found in a speech by any republican, as though its use is democrat-exclusive. That was a silly claim anyway, as ridiculous as claiming anyone accepts full responsibility by simply saying ‘we’. I wonder how things are over at the IRS, where there ‘isn’t an iota of evidence’ of any wrongdoing.

          • Sand_Cat

            My “challenge” was about accepting responsibility, not whether some word was used.
            Time to read the speech…

          • Sand_Cat

            Every “we” in it other than what “we” want is blaming problems on someone else. Some valid criticisms, but nowhere does Ronald Reagan or any of those listening come up for any self-criticism other than maybe they haven’t stopped their “liberal friends,” who are, of course, to blame for it all.
            A political speech given in an entirely different context, saying pretty much what political speeches usually say: the other guys have really screwed things up, and we need to stop them. An unfair comparison to Obama’s remarks, which were an admission that “we” did wrong, but you chose it