Obama: Some of CIA’s harsh methods were ‘brutal’

December 9, 2014
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama said Tuesday that some of the tactics described in a Senate report on harsh CIA interrogations were “brutal,” ”wrong” and “counterproductive,” but that releasing the information was an important step in the process of making sure that such a scenario isn’t ever repeated.

Tactics included confinement to small boxes, weeks of sleep deprivation, simulated drowning, slapping and slamming, and threats to kill or harm families of the captives.

The uncovered report produced revulsion among many with challenges to its veracity among some lawmakers and a sharp debate about whether it should have been released at all.

“One of the things that sets us apart from other countries is that when we make mistakes, we admit them,” Obama told the Spanish-language television network Telemundo.

His comments followed by hours the Democratic-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee’s release of a declassified version of its long-anticipated report on CIA interrogations during the administration of Obama’s predecessor, Republican George W. Bush. Obama banned use of the tactics shortly after taking office nearly six years ago.

The report concludes that the CIA deceived government officials and the public with its steadfast insistence that the tactics, employed during the period that followed the deadly 9/11 terrorist attack on the U.S., had saved lives. The report says the CIA’s own records fail to back up the agency’s claims.

Obama said the report makes clear that the interrogation program was created too hastily and without enough thought about potential consequences.

“The CIA set up something very fast without a lot of forethought to what the ramifications might be,” he said. “That the lines of accountability that needed to be set up were not always in place, and that some of these techniques that were described were not only wrong, but also counterproductive because we know that oftentimes when somebody is being subjected to these kinds of techniques, that they’re willing to say anything in order to alleviate the pain and the stress that they’re feeling. And we’ve got better ways of doing things.”

He said some of the tactics written about in the report were “brutal, and as I’ve said before, constituted torture, in my mind. And that’s not who we are.”

Obama said releasing the report was important “so that we can account for it, so that people understand precisely why I banned these practices as one of the first acts I took when I came into office, and hopefully make sure that we don’t make those mistakes again.”