Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Obama concedes CIA 'torture' but still supports director

President Barack Obama also said Friday he had “full confidence” in CIA director John Brennan, in trouble with Congress over the CIA’s monitoring of a Senate committee’s computers.

Getty Images

President Barack Obama also said Friday he had “full confidence” in CIA director John Brennan, in trouble with Congress over the CIA’s monitoring of a Senate committee’s computers.

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama acknowledged Friday that CIA interrogators tortured suspected terrorists but voiced "full confidence" in CIA director John Brennan despite criticism from Congress.

Obama rhetorically conceded that waterboarding and other brutal techniques amounted to torture, which is illegal.

"In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, we did some things that were wrong," Obama said at a news conference at the White House. "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."

"I understand why it happened. I think it's important when we look back to recall how afraid people were after the twin towers fell." He said that "a lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and were real patriots."

In other comments, Obama hailed recent economic improvements and said that in a phone call to Russian President Vladimir Putin, he pressed Putin to support a diplomatic solution to the fighting in Ukraine.

Though Obama has used the term "torture" before, his timing Friday was particularly sensitive, coming ahead of the release of a long-awaited Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA interrogation practices, whose legality has been the subject of considerable debate.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said late Friday that the release of the report will be delayed "until further notice" because the Obama administration blacked out large portions of it. "We need additional time to understand the basis for these redactions and determine their justification," she said.

Brennan's future was in question, with growing congressional fury over revelations that the CIA monitored computers used by Intelligence Committee staff.

"Clearly, he has to prove himself," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Friday. "I don't know how he does that."

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said the report of CIA monitoring "renews the need for the Department of Justice to consider a criminal investigation," while Sen. Lindsey Graham, R.-S.C., called it "the last in a string of events" establishing a need for "a new CIA director." Brennan has headed the agency since March 2013.

Obama concedes CIA 'torture' but still supports director 08/01/14 [Last modified: Friday, August 1, 2014 9:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tim Tebow Week: 12 stories from his Tampa Bay tour


    Alas, Tim Tebow Week — eight baseball games in eight nights that reunited Tebow with his Tampa Bay friends and admirers — is over. The fun ended Thursday night.

    St. Lucie Mets outfielder Tim Tebow meets fans and signs autographs before the beginning of the Mets at Threshers game at Spectrum Field on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 in Clearwater. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times

  2. Democrat Philip Levine won't attack Trump. Can he be Florida governor?


    If he decides to run, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine will be the most enigmatic and unpredictable candidate for Florida governor in 2018.

    Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine is introduced before speaking at a Tampa Tiger Bay Club meeting at the Ferguson Law Center in Tampa on May 19. (LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times)
  3. What you need to know for Friday, Aug. 18


    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    Read 'Hellfire from Above,' inside the Tampa Electric Co. power plant accident that left five people dead. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
  4. Tampa is training ground for Team USA inline skating

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — The United States once dominated the sport known as international outdoor inline speed skating.

    Cotton Yarborough is one of five people from the Tampa Bay area on the national inline speed skating team. The team is competing in the world championships Aug. 27 in China. [Courtesy of Frank Holland]
  5. Grocery and hotel deals in reach for Tampa Encore project

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — After failing to land both Publix and Walmart, the Tampa Housing Authority says it is close to a deal to bring another well-known grocer to its Encore project.

    The Tampa Housing Authority's Encore project has housing like The Reed, pictured, but no retail. It is in talks to bring a grocer and two hotels to the site on the west side of Nebraska Avenue close to downtown Tampa.