Former US vice president Dick Cheney on Sunday defended America’s now-banned program that tortured Al-Qaeda suspects, praising the CIA operatives who ran it as heroes.
“I’m perfectly comfortable that they should be praised, they should be decorated,” the right-hand man to former president George W. Bush told NBC television’s “Meet the Press” program, adding, “I’d do it again in a minute.”
He made his remarks after the release by Senate Democrats last week of a long-awaited investigation into detention and interrogation practices at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and at secret detention facilities — so-called “black sites” — where detainees were held around the world.
Cheney said there is “no comparison” between the tactics and the deaths of American citizens on September 11, 2001, adding that the CIA “very carefully avoided” the practice of torture.
“Torture is what the Al-Qaeda terrorists did to 3,000 Americans on 9/11,” Cheney said.
“There is no comparison between that and what we did with respect to enhanced interrogation.”
He said he was unfazed that many of the foreign nationals rounded up and held for years, including those tortured, eventually were found not to be terrorists.
“I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective and our objective is to get the guys who did 9/11 and it is to avoid another attack against the United States,” he said.
The lengthy report spearheaded by Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee asserted that interrogation tactics used on terror suspects were more brutal than previously known.
The report revealed the existence of one practice viewed as particularly abhorrent — “rectal rehydration” — which critics categorized as a variation on a medieval form of torture in which the intestines are swollen with fluid in order to cause pain.
Cheney said he was not aware the practice was part of the interrogation program, which intelligence officials have said was meant as a way to provide nutrition to inmates.
“I believe it was done for medical reasons,” Cheney said.
In excruciating detail, the report described crude torture methods including waterboarding, hanging people for hours from their wrists and locking them in tiny coffin-shaped boxes.
– ‘It absolutely worked’ –
The report questioned the effectiveness of such techniques, which it determined were actually counterproductive for getting actionable intelligence.
Cheney strongly disagreed.
“It worked. It absolutely worked,” he said on Sunday about the program which US officials euphemistically have referred to as employing “enhanced interrogation techniques.”
Reiterating comments he made last week, Cheney insisted that his boss was fully aware about the details of the program as it was being conducted.
“This man knew what we were doing,” he said about Bush.
“He authorized it. He approved it.”
In earlier remarks the former vice president defended the interrogation program and blasted the 500-page Senate report as “terrible” and “full of crap.”
The report released Tuesday said the CIA’s interrogation of Al-Qaeda suspects — including beatings, rectal rehydration, and sleep deprivation — was far more brutal than acknowledged and did not produce useful intelligence.
It also concluded that the CIA deliberately misled Congress and the White House about the value of the intelligence its interrogators were gathering.
GOP senator derails Lindsey Graham’s Obamagate hearing with profanity-laced rant on ‘grandstanding’
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) blasted senators on the Judiciary Committee on Thursday for what he said was "grandstanding for the cameras" at a hearing to review former special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.
“It’s bullshit the way people grandstand for cameras in here," Sasse told the committee. "The reality is if we didn’t have cameras in this room, the discussion would be different. The Senate doesn’t work. It doesn’t diffuse the partisan tensions that are leading the country toward dissolution.”
"Ninety percent of our committees are about people trolling for soundbites," the senator added. "That's what actually happens. Some of us have other work to do. People can troll for soundbites whenever they want."
Man who shot and killed Ahmaud Arbery stood over his body and uttered racial slur: report
According to a new report from CBS News, the man who shot and killed Ahmaud Arbery allegedly stood over his body and uttered a racial epithet.
"Agent Richard Dial testified that the driver of the second pickup truck, Roddie Bryan, said Travis McMichael then stood over Arbery's body and said a racial epithet before police arrived," CBS News reports.
"The evidence was presented to support murder charges against McMichael and his father as well as Bryan. It also could factor into a federal investigation into whether hate crime charges are warranted."
This is a developing story. Check for updates at CBS News.
Bishop who criticized Trump gets blocked from accessing her church — thanks to new White House border wall
Bishop Mariann Budde, who earlier this week criticized President Donald Trump for using the St. John's Church as a photo-op location without asking permission, was unable to access her church this week to hold a planned vigil.
Mother Jones reports that Budde had wanted to use the church to hold a vigil in solidarity with protesters on Wednesday, but was prevented from doing so thanks to the new wall being constructed around the perimeter of the White House complex that includes St. John's Church.