President Obama's news conference -- full text
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And it makes us — it puts us in a much stronger position to work with our allies in the kind of international, coordinated intelligence activity that can shut down these networks.
So this is a decision that I'm very comfortable with. And I think the American people over time will recognize that it is better for us to stick to who we are, even when we're taking on an unscrupulous enemy.
OBAMA: I'm sorry?
Q: (OFF-MIKE) sanctioned torture?
OBAMA: I believe that waterboarding was torture. And I think that the — whatever legal rationales were used, it was a mistake.
Q: Thank you, sir. Let me follow up, if I may, on Jake's question. Did you read the documents recently referred to by former Vice President Cheney and others saying that the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques not only protected the nation but saved lives?
And if part of the United States were under imminent threat, could you envision yourself ever authorizing the use of those enhanced interrogation techniques?
OBAMA: I have read the documents. Now they have not been officially declassified and released. And so I don't want to go to the details of them. But here's what I can tell you, that the public reports and the public justifications for these techniques, which is that we got information from these individuals that were subjected to these techniques, don't answer the core question.
Which is, could we have gotten that same information without resorting to these techniques? And it doesn't answer the broader question, are we safer as a consequence of having used these techniques?
So when I made the decision to release these memos and when I made the decision to bar these practices, this was based on consultation with my entire national security team, and based on my understanding that ultimately I will be judged as commander in chief on how safe I'm keeping the American people.
That's the responsibility I wake up with and it's the responsibility I go to sleep with. And so I will do whatever is required to keep the American people safe. But I am absolutely convinced that the best way I can do that is to make sure that we are not taking short cuts that undermine who we are.
And there have been no circumstances during the course of this first 100 days in which I have seen information that would make me second guess the decision that I have made. OK?
Q: Thank you, Mr. President. I want to move to Pakistan. Pakistan appears to be at war with the Taliban inside their own country. Can you reassure the American people that if necessary America could secure Pakistan's nuclear arsenal and keep it from getting into the Taliban's hands or, worst case scenario, even al-Qaida's hands?
OBAMA: I'm confident that we can make sure that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is secure. Primarily, initially, because the Pakistani army, I think, recognizes the hazards of those weapons falling into the wrong hands. We've got strong military-to-military consultation and cooperation.
I am gravely concerned about the situation in Pakistan, not because I think that they're immediately going to be overrun and the Taliban would take over in Pakistan. I'm more concerned that the civilian government there right now is very fragile and don't seem to have the capacity to deliver basic services: schools, health care, rule of law, a judicial system that works for the majority of the people.
And so as a consequence, it is very difficult for them to gain the support and the loyalty of their people. So we need to help Pakistan help Pakistanis. And I think that there's a recognition increasingly on the part of both the civilian government there and the army that that is their biggest weakness.