President Obama today admitted the CIA tortured al Qaeda detainees after the 9/11 attacks, saying "we did some things that were contrary to our values."
"We tortured some folks," the president told reporters at the White House, ahead of the release of a Senate report on enhanced interrogation techniques.
In a rare reflection on the practices that he banned after taking office, the president said, "I understand why it happened" and underscored the tremendous pressure that national security officials were under in the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
"It is important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had," he said. "But having said all that, we did some things that were wrong."
"When we engaged in some of these enhanced interrogation techniques, techniques that I believe and any fair-minded person would believe were torture, we crossed a line," he said. "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."