Bush Admin Officials Defend CIA’s Interrogation Tactics

Cheney criticizes Senate Dems for not talking to those involved with program

December 14, 2014

Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday dismissed the newly released Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program as "seriously flawed."

"They didn’t talk to anybody who knew anything about the program. They didn't talk to anybody who was in the program. The best guide for what in fact happened is the one that's the report that was produced by the three CIA directors and deputy directors of the CIA when this program was undertaken," Cheney said on NBC’s "Meet the Press."

"[The Senate Report] didn’t begin to approach what’s required by way of responsible oversight," Cheney later noted. "Go read what the directors of the agency said about the report. They were extremely critical of it as were the Republicans who served on the committee."

The executive summary of the report, crafted by Senate Democrats, was released on Wednesday, and has received mixed reactions.

Republicans pointed to the report as a partisan effort to rewrite history, while Democrats and the White House say it shows that the CIA used torture techniques that were ineffective and "contrary to our values."

United Nations officials urged the United States last week to investigate and prosecute individuals involved in the program.

Despite a chorus of criticisms, Cheney and other officials involved with the program stood by it as a program that was successful in keeping Americans safe and was entirely legal and transparent.

"We got authorization from the president and the Justice Department to go forward," Cheney flatly noted.

Jose Rodriguez, the former director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service who oversaw the interrogation program, made a similar argument, telling Fox News Sunday that now-critical Democrats supported the program.

"I remember, very clearly, briefing Nancy Pelosi in September of 2002 … she knew back in September of 2002 every one of our enhanced interrogation techniques."

From waterboarding to sleep deprivation, Rodriquez said Democrats "were fully aware of the techniques," and few offered objections.

"The only one who objected to, and it was more of a caution, was [former California Democrat Rep.] Jane Harman," Rodriguez said. "She was the only person who ever objected to anything."

Both Rodriguez and Cheney said the program was successful and neither regret using it.

"It’s worked now for thirteen years," said Cheney.  We’ve avoided another mass-casualty attack against the United States. We did capture bin Laden. We did capture an awful lot of the senior guys of al Qaeda who were responsible for that attack on 9/11. I’d do it again in a minute."

Real torture, Cheney contended, is not what the CIA did, but it can be seen in the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

"Waterboarding the way we do it was in fact not torture. Now when you’re dealing with terrorists, the likes of al Qaeda or the likes of ISIS, I haven’t seen them waterboard anybody. What they do is cut their heads off.  What they did to three thousand Americans on 9/11 that was brutal bloody murder. This absolutely can’t be compared with what we did with respect to our enhanced interrogation program."

"Torture," he said, "is what the al Qaeda terrorists did to 3,000 Americans on 9/11."

Published under: Dick Cheney