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Obama backs CIA chief, admits US torture

WASHINGTON, Aug 1 (KUNA) -- US President Barack Obama defended CIA Director John Brennan on Friday, following revelations that the intelligence agency spied on the Senate committee designed to oversee it.
Brennan apologized to the Senate on Thursday, admitting misconduct by the CIA.
"I have full confidence in John Brennan," Obama told reporters at the White House. "I think he has acknowledged and directly apologized to Senator (Dianne) Feinstein that CIA personnel did not properly handle an investigation as to how certain documents that were not authorized to be released to the Senate staff got somehow into the hands of the Senate staff. And it's clear from the (Inspector General's) report that some very poor judgment was shown in terms of how that was handled.
"Keep in mind, though, that John Brennan was the person who called for the IG report, and he's already stood up a task force to make sure that lessons are learned and mistakes are resolved," he added.
The investigation into spying allegations, launched last spring, showed the CIA effectively hacked into Senate computers in order to access a report about how the agency handled the torture of detainees in the wake of 9/11.
The Bush Administration called them "enhanced interrogation techniques" and President George W. Bush insisted that the US does not engage in torture.
Obama banned practices like water-boarding prisoners back in 2009, and admitted on Friday that the US was complicit in torture.
"I was very clear that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 we did some things that were wrong," he said. "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," he continued. "I think it's important when we look back to recall how afraid people were after the twin towers fell and the Pentagon had been hit and the plane in Pennsylvania had fallen and people did not know whether more attacks were imminent, and there was enormous pressure on our law enforcement and our national security teams to try to deal with this.
"The character of our country has to be measured in part not by what we do when things are easy but what we do when things are hard," said Obama.
He further noted that "the declassified version" of the Senate's Rendition/Detention/Interrogation (RDI) report will be released "at the pleasure of the Senate committee". (end) ys.hb