President Obama said in blunt terms Friday that the United States "tortured some folks" — describing a forthcoming report on now-defunct U.S. interrogation techniques he called "contrary to our values."
Now, it's up to the committee to make the executive summary and other portions of the report public, which is expected to happen in the next few weeks.
"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 said in a last-minute news conference in the White House briefing room. “We did a lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values. I understand why it happened.”
Obama said people should not look back too "sanctimoniously" at the people involved in authorizing those methods, which he outlawed after being elected.
He said it is important to understand the fear and pressure officials were under, not knowing if another attack was imminent.
"A lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots, but having said all that, we did some things that were wrong. And that is what that report reflects," he said.
The report is expected to conclude that the harsh interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, used by the CIA during President George W. Bush's administration were made to appear more successful than they were. The harm caused by their use did not outweigh the benefits, the report is expected to conclude.
"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, and that needs to be understood and accepted," he said. "And we have to, as a country, take responsibility for that so hopefully we don't do it again in the future."