And then the reason was that Churchill understood — you start taking shortcuts, over time, that corrodes what's — what's best in a people. It corrodes the character of a country.
And — and so I strongly believed that the steps that we've taken to prevent these kinds of enhanced interrogation techniques will make us stronger over the long term and make us safer over the long term because it will put us in a — in a position where we can still get information.
In some cases, it may be harder, but part of what makes us, I think, still a beacon to the world is that we are willing to hold true to our ideals even when it's hard, not just when it's easy.
At the same time, it takes away a critical recruitment tool that al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations have used to try to demonize the United States and justify the killing of civilians.
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?