WASHINGTON (AFP) — The Guantanamo 'war on terror' detention center should remain open indefinitely, Vice President Richard Cheney told ABC News in an interview Monday, while also defending the harsh interrogation method known as waterboarding.
Cheney was asked when the detention camp at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba can be "responsibly" be shut down. "Well, I think that that would come with the end of the war on terror," he told ABC.
And when is that? "Well, nobody knows," Cheney said. "Nobody can specify that."
In previous wars the United States has "always exercised the right to capture the enemy and then hold them till the end of the conflict. That's what we did in World War II with, you know, thousands, hundreds of thousands of German prisoners," Cheney said.
"The same basic principle ought to apply here in terms of our right to capture the enemy and hold them.
The other option, Cheney said, "is to turn them over to somebody else. A lot of them, nobody wants. I mean, there's a great resistance sometimes in the home countries to taking these people back into their own territory."
According to Cheney, some 30 detainees who were released from Guantanamo "ended up back on the battlefield again, and we've encountered them a second time around. But they've either been killed or captured in further conflicts with our forces."
Cheney also said he helped authorize interrogation methods used on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, an Al-Qaeda operative detained in Pakistan and sent to Guantanamo who has confessed to being a top planner of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States.
Sheikh Mohammed was subjected to a forced interrogation method that simulates drowning known as waterboarding.
"I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared, as the agency in effect came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn't do," Cheney said.
"And they talked to me, as well as others, to explain what they wanted to do. And I supported it," Cheney said.
ABC asked him if in hindsight he thought the tactics went too far. "I don't," Cheney said.
The Cheney interview is to air on ABC late Monday and early Tuesday, the network said, as it released an advanced transcript of the questions and answers.
This video is from ABC's World News, broadcast Dec. 15, 2008.