Sen. King: CIA torture was ‘unjustifiable’

Sen. Angus King, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Sunday that Central Intelligence Agency personnel committed acts of torture in the wake of 9/11 and called it “unjustifiable.”

King, an independent from Maine who caucuses with Democrats, said he has voted to declassify a report by the Senate intelligence panel detailing the incidents of alleged torture.

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King partly defended agency officials by describing them as “under tremendous pressure” in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center and killed thousands of people. But he criticized the agency for trying to obscure its rough treatment of suspected terrorists in the pursuit of intelligence.

“They should have come forward and said, ‘OK, we made a mistake. We were under pressure, we made a mistake.’ But they’re still trying to justify and argue it wasn’t torture, which is nonsense,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“If they had stepped forward and said, ‘We did some things we wished we hadn’t under duress, we’re not going to do that again,’ I think we could put this behind us. They keep trying to justify it. It’s unjustifiable,” he continued.

King called the anticipated Senate report on CIA torture “an object lesson” for future presidents and CIA chiefs about how things can “get off the rails.”

President Obama acknowledged during a press conference Friday that intelligence officials tortured suspected terrorists under former President George W. Bush.

“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,” he said.