President Barack Obama criticized the torture techniques exposed by a Senate report in an interview with Fusion host Jorge Ramos, but stopped short of directly blaming his predecessor, George W. Bush and his administration.
“The CIA cannot act alone,” Ramos said on Tuesday. “Is this the responsibility of President Bush? Did he betray American values?”
“After 9/11, I don’t think that you can know what it feels like to know that America’s gone through the worst attack on the continental United States in its history, and you’re uncertain as to what’s coming next,” Obama replied. “So, there were a lot of people who did a lot of things right and worked very hard to keep us safe. But I think that any fair-minded person, looking at this, would say some terrible mistakes were made.”
The report, released earlier in the day by the Senate Intelligence Committee, determined that the CIA misled both the public and the government against several prisoners following the attacks, but failed to gain much in the way of significant intelligence.
The committee also found that interrogators — several of whom did not receive special training in advance of their duties — threatened detainees’ families, accidentally tortured agency informants and subjected at least five prisoners to “rectal feeding without documented medical necessity.”
“Unfortunately, as the Senate report shows, we engaged in some brutal activity after 9/11,” Obama told Ramos. “This is an accounting of some of the problems that the CIA program engaged in. I recognize that there’s controversy in terms of the details, but what’s not controversial is the fact that we did some things that violated who we are as a people.”
Reports earlier this year indicated that the committee’s investigation touched off a dispute between its staffers and the CIA, including allegations that Senate staffers secretly took documents related to the report from the agency.
“There’s never a perfect time to release a report like this,” he said. “But it was important for us, I think, to recognize that part of what sets us apart is, when we do something wrong we acknowledge it.”
Watch Obama’s interview with Ramos, as posted online on Tuesday, below.