"Unfortunately, as the Senate report shows, we engaged in some brutal activity after 9/11, and, you know, this is an accounting of some of the problems that the CIA program engaged in," Obama said in the interview with Ramos. "I recognize that there’s controversies in terms of some of the details, but what’s not controversial is the fact that we did some things that violated who we are as a people."
Obama said the release of the report is important because it shows that when the U.S. makes mistakes it admits them. He said he is concerned about potential ramifications overseas after the release of the report, but the U.S. has taken preventative steps in an attempt to mitigate that risk.
Obama praised the work of the CIA, saying that overall the agency does an excellent job. But in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, it was dealing with a high level of uncertainty as to whether other attacks would take place and set up a system quickly without thinking through the ramifications.
"There are a lot of folks who work very hard after 9/11 to keep us safe — during a very hazardous situation and a time when people were unsure of what was taking place," Obama told Diaz-Balart. "But what was also true is, is that we took some steps that were contrary to who we are, contrary to our values."
Obama obliquely defended President George W. Bush after Ramos asked if Bush was to blame for the interrogation techniques and whether he betrayed American values.
"After 9/11, I don’t think that you can know what it feels like to know that America’s gone through the worst attack on the continental United States in its history. And you’re uncertain as to what’s coming next," Obama said. "There were a lot of people who did a lot of things right and worked very hard to keep us safe, but I think that any fair-minded person looking at this would say that some terrible mistakes were made in allowing these kinds of practices to take place."
Obama signed executive orders in 2009 to fulfill a pledge to end what he called torture. When asked if he could say that no one in his administration had engaged in torture, the president said he can "categorically say that anybody who engaged in any behavior like this would be directly violating my executive orders and my policies as president of the United States, and would be held into account and would be breaking the law."