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September 20, 2017

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After 9/11, 'we tortured some folks,' admits President Obama

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Barack Obama acknowledged Friday that U.S. intelligence operatives had "tortured some folks" in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, but urged they not be judged too harshly.

The U.S. administration is expected to release a declassified Senate report in the coming days that will detail abuses by intelligence agents targeting the Islamist extremist group al-Qaida.

"Even before I came into office, I was very clear that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, we did some things that were wrong," Obama told reporters.

"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.

"When we engaged in some of these enhanced interrogation techniques, techniques that I believe and I think any fair-minded person would believe were torture, we crossed a line."

Apparently preparing the ground for the report, which lawmakers say they expect to be made public within days, Obama said intelligence personnel had been under extreme pressure in 2001 and after.

His remarks on Friday were not the first time Obama has said that the actions of some U.S. agents under his predecessor George W. Bush during the so-called "war on terror" amounted to torture.

Upon taking office in 2009, he banned "enhanced interrogation techniques" such as water-boarding, a form of simulated drowning that U.S. intelligence has admitted using.

And, in May last year, Obama said in a major address to the National Defense University: "I believe we compromised our basic values by using torture to interrogate our enemies."

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