Obama Expresses Confidence in C.I.A. Director

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from The New York Times,

President Obama said on Friday that he has “full confidence” in John Brennan, the director of the C.I.A., despite Mr. Brennan’s admission this week that his agency improperly searched the computers of the congressional committee that is preparing to release a report on the use of torture in the fight against terror.

The president’s comments came in a news conference in which Mr. Obama also hailed recent economic improvements, expressed pessimism about efforts to halt the violence in Israel and complained about Republican inaction in Congress.

Mr. Obama said that his administration has tried to confront the many crises at home and around the world, and should get more credit for the effort, even when positive outcomes are not immediately apparent.

“We try — we go in there and make an effort,” Mr. Obama said of his administration’s work to end violence and conflict around the world. “I tell you what, there isn’t any other country that’s going in there and making those efforts.”

Asked about the upcoming release of a report that documents American interrogation techniques, Mr. Obama said the C.I.A. exercised “very poor judgment” in its handling of the report. But he said that Mr. Brennan had apologized for the incident to Senator Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“I have full confidence in John Brennan,” Mr. Obama said, noting an inspector general’s conclusions about the C.I.A. spying on the committee. “It’s clear from the I.G. report that some very poor judgment was shown in how that was handled. Keep in mind that John Brennan was the one who called for the I.G. report.”

Mr. Obama said the report on interrogation techniques documents the country’s use of torture after the Sept. 11 attacks. He said the report makes clear that “we tortured some folks” in the aftermath of those attacks.

“We did some things that were contrary to our values,” he said. “I understand why it happened. I think it’s important when we look back to recall how afraid people were after the twin towers fell.” He said that “a lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and were real patriots.”

But, he added, “We crossed a line. That needs to be understood and accepted. And we have to, as a country, take responsibility for that so that hopefully we don’t do it again in the future.”

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