Following the events of 9/11, the Bush administration engaged in a practice often referred to as enhanced interrogation techniques when attempting to get information out of suspected terrorists.
In a news conference that wrapped up Friday afternoon, President Obama admitted that this could be characterized as nothing less than torture, and that the US can no longer deny this fact.
During the live press conference, President Obama stated
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, we did some things that were wrong... We tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values.
As ABC notes, this is not the first time that President Obama has spoken on this issue. This is, however, the most directly he has addressed the contentious interrogation methods.
Torture is illegal by both US and international law. Accordingly, the fact that the US engaged in such heinous acts will continue to besmirch its legacy for many years to come. With that said, Obama's candor was a major step in the right direction in terms of government transparency.
But according to Vox, using the "T-word" in this more general sense "took many by surprise."
By using such a clear, charged word, and one that has real legal implications, Obama seemed to have done something very significant.
The reason it is significant this time is that Obama has long been pressuring the Senate Intelligence Committee to release its classified report, commonly known as the "torture report," which divulges the details of interrogation tactics immediately following the 9/11 attacks.
In essence, this report will offer a comprehensive overview of the systematic abuses committed by the US government in the wake of 9/11, and in the process it will help ensure that these abhorrent practices are never repeated.
Obama was right to say that the US did things contrary to its values, and now there will be substantial evidence.
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