President Obama said Tuesday that a long-awaited Senate report on CIA torture of terrorism suspects details “a troubling program” that harmed America’s reputation, reasons that he ended the practices soon after taking office.
In a statement before Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California released the report, Mr. Obama said the probe “reinforces my long-held view that these harsh methods were not only inconsistent with our values as nation, they did not serve our broader counterterrorism efforts or our national security interests.”
“Moreover, these techniques did significant damage to America’s standing in the world and made it harder to pursue our interests with allies and partners,” Mr. Obama said. “That is why I will continue to use my authority as president to make sure we never resort to those methods again.”
The president also suggested he won’t support calls from some liberals to prosecute anyone connected to the program started under the Bush administration after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“No nation is perfect,” Mr. Obama said. “Rather than another reason to refight old arguments, I hope that today’s report can help us leave these techniques where they belong — in the past.”
Mr. Obama said he pushed for the $40 million report to declassified because, “One of the strengths that makes America exceptional is our willingness to openly confront our past, face our imperfections, make changes and do better.”
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While not harshly criticizing Bush administration officials, Mr. Obama said the interrogation methods that were approved amounted to torture.
“The previous administration faced agonizing choices about how to pursue al Qaeda and prevent additional terrorist attacks against our country,” Mr. Obama said. “Our nation did many things right in those difficult years. At the same time, some of the actions that were taken were contrary to our values.”
He added, “That is why I unequivocally banned torture when I took office, because one of our most effective tools in fighting terrorism and keeping Americans safe is staying true to our ideals at home and abroad.”