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Obama: CIA torture did not help U.S. efforts against terrorism

US President Barack Obama

Washington, Dec 9 (EFE).- U.S. President Barack Obama said Tuesday that the use of torture by the CIA on suspected terrorists during the past decade did not help the efforts against terrorism or the country’s national security interests, after the release of a Senate report on the issue.

The report on CIA practices published Tuesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee “documents a troubling program” of interrogating terrorism suspects between 2001 and 2009, and it should contribute to leaving “these techniques where they belong – in the past,” said the president in a statement.

The document “reinforces my long-held view that these harsh methods were not only inconsistent with our values as nation, they did not serve our broader counterterrorism efforts or our national security interests,” he said.

“Moreover, these techniques did significant damage to America’s standing in the world and made it harder to pursue our interests with allies and partners. That is why I will continue to use my authority as President to make sure we never resort to those methods again,” Obama emphasized.

The Senate report, published after five years of reviewing and compiling documents, discusses the processes of interrogating Al Qaeda suspects and members being held at secret installations in Europe and Asia during the eight years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

According to the document, CIA agents acted in a much more “brutal” way than they told legislators and the U.S. public, and – in addition – their methods were not effective.

Obama said that during the years after 9-11, “with legitimate fears of further attacks and with the responsibility to prevent more catastrophic loss of life, the previous administration faced agonizing choices about how to pursue al Qaeda and prevent additional terrorist attacks against our country.”

“Our nation did many things right in those difficult years. At the same time, some of the actions that were taken were contrary to our values,” he said.

Obama emphasized that he had always supported the declassification of the Senate Intelligence Committee report, which was prepared by the Democratic leadership on that committee and was opposed by many Republicans.

“No nation is perfect. But one of the strengths that makes America exceptional is our willingness to openly confront our past, face our imperfections, make changes and do better,” said Obama, who added that acting in accord with the nation’s values “doesn’t make us weaker, it makes us stronger.”

The president also emphasized that the U.S. public owes “a profound debt of gratitude to our fellow citizens who serve to keep us safe, among them the dedicated men and women of … the Central Intelligence Agency.”

“Our intelligence professionals are patriots, and we are safer because of their heroic service and sacrifices,” he said.

Along the same lines, Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday asked that the 2001-2009 period not determine the image Americans have in their minds about the intelligence community because the deeds discussed in the report do not represent who America is as a nation.