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Obama reveals torture tactics used after 9/11

– The United States tortured al-Qaida detainees captured after the 9/11 attacks, President Obama said Friday, in some of his most expansive comments to date about a controversial set of CIA practices that he banned after taking office.

“We tortured some folks,” Obama said at a televised news conference at the White House. “We did some things that were contrary to our values.”

Addressing the impending release of a Senate report that criticizes CIA treatment of detainees, Obama said he believed the mistreatment stemmed from the pressure national security officials felt to forestall another attack. He said Americans should not be too “sanctimonious,” about passing judgment through the lens of a seemingly safer present day.

That view, which he expressed as a candidate for national office in 2008 and early in his presidency, explains why Obama did not push to pursue criminal charges against the Bush era officials who carried out the CIA program.

To this day, many of those officials insist that what they did was not torture, which is a felony under U.S. law.

The president’s comments are a blow to those former officials, as well as an estimated 200 people currently working at the CIA who played some role in the interrogation program.

In 2009, Obama said he preferred to “look forward, not backwards,” on the issue, and he decided that no CIA officer who was following legal guidance – however flawed that guidance turned out to be – should be prosecuted. A long-running criminal investigation into whether the CIA exceeded the guidance was closed in 2012 without charges.

Still, Obama’s remarks on Friday were more emphatic than his previous comments on the subject, including a May 2009 speech in which he trumpeted his ban of “so-called enhanced interrogation techniques” and “brutal methods,” but did not flatly say the U.S. had engaged in torture.

At an April 2009 news conference, he said, “I believe that waterboarding was torture and, whatever legal rationales were used, it was a mistake.”

In addition to water boarding, the CIA used stress positions, sleep deprivation, nudity, humiliation, cold and other tactics that, taken together, were extremely brutal, the Senate report is expected to say. Obama on Friday said the CIA used techniques that “any fair minded person would believe were torture.”

“We crossed a line,” he said. “That needs to be understood and accepted. … We did some things that were wrong, and thats what that report reflects.”

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