President Obama has weighed in on a secretive Senate investigation on the intelligence activities of the CIA in the wake of the September 11 attacks, telling the White House Press Corps Friday that “we tortured some folks.”
The Associated Press reports that the remark resulted from a question the President received on the report itself, after which the President admitted that “we tortured some folks,” adding that the United States “did some things that were wrong” in response to the Al Qaeda attack. The results of the Senate investigation determining whether torture occurred have not yet been released and are not expected in some weeks, but President Obama’s remark indicates that the White House’s talking points on the investigation will be to condemn the CIA’s actions to find Al Qaeda terrorists after 9/11 using enhanced interrogation techniques.
The President’s remark follows the publication of a statement from within the White House that indicated the State Department will take a similar road regarding the Senate. “This report tells a story of which no American is proud,” read a statement, allegedly from the Department of State, in a four-page White House document on the mysterious Senate report. That White House document, the Associated Press continues to explain, includes proposed State Department talking points condemning CIA activity, saying of the Senate report: “it leaves no doubt that the methods used to extract information from some terrorist suspects caused profound pain, suffering and humiliation. It also leaves no doubt that the harm caused by the use of these techniques outweighed any potential benefit.”
The Senate investigation has been extremely controversial due to claims that some individuals involved in those interrogations were omitted from the process in writing it. The Washington Post reports that about 12 former CIA officials were initially told they would be able to review the report and contribute to the process of curating it but were later told last Friday that they would not have that opportunity. “They are accusing people of misleading Congress, of misleading the Justice Department, and they never even asked to talk to us,” said John Rizzo, a former CIA top lawyer who claims he was told he would be able to review the report before it was published. “And now they won’t let us read the report before it is made public.”
President Obama ran for election in 2008 on a generally anti-war platform that aimed to garner the support of opponents of the Iraq War and President George W. Bush’s war on terror. His reputation with both the left and the right on the subject of appropriate extensions of power to the CIA has diminished significantly throughout his two terms, particularly due to the widespread use of drone technology to assassinate terrorist leaders (and, often, innocent civilians) and the discovery that the President kept a “kill list” of individuals to eliminate, mostly without conventional due process.