WASHINGTON (CNN) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates Thursday reluctantly supported the release of the government documents regarding interrogation techniques.
Gates, who used to be CIA director, said he realized that despite his and others' concerns about protecting the CIA agents involved, the documents would inevitably be released.
"The things that I was concerned about was first and foremost the protection of the CIA officers who were involved in the interrogations and who performed their duties in accordance with the legal guidance that they had been given by the Justice Department. I wanted to make sure, I felt strongly, the importance that they be protected," Gates told reporters during a tour of Camp Lejeune in North Carolina where he was watching Marines prepare for deployment to Afghanistan.
Gates said he was also concerned with the "potential backlash" in the Middle East and in the war zones. He said the release might have a negative impact on the troops.
But Gates said with all the congressional investigations being released and lawsuits, the release of the memos was going to happen.
"There is a certain inevitability that much of this will eventually come out," Gates said. "Pretending that we could hold all this and keep it all a secret, even if we wanted to, I think was probably unrealistic."