Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday budged not an inch in his defense of the CIA torture program – even when it came to people who were falsely detained. And he reiterated that, given the chance, that he would do it all again.
Asked by NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” about the estimated 26 people the CIA acknowledged were mistakenly held in custody and tortured, Cheney replied, “The problem I have is with all the folks that we did release that ended up back on the battlefield.” He added, “I’m more concerned with bad guys who got released than I am with a few that were in fact innocent.”
And confronted with so-called “rectal feeding” – which meets the FBI’s definition of rape – Cheney claimed it “was done for medical reasons.”
Each time Cheney was asked to weigh in on the grisly tactics, he pivoted instead to American citizens dying on the September 11 terrorist attacks. The only thing he would concede constituted torture was what “19 guys armed with airline tickets and box cutters did to Americans on 9/11.”
“There’s this notion that there’s a moral equivalence between us and the terrorists,” Cheney said.
If such tactics were used on detained Americans, Todd asked, would that be torture? Cheney accused him of “trying to come up with hypotheticals,” and said, “When you’re dealing with terrorists, I haven’t seen them waterboard anyone. What they do is cut their heads off.”
Cheney called the Senate report a “cheap shot piece of political business that was not bipartisan.” He previously called the report “full of crap” during a Fox interview last week.
The report itself says “the use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of obtaining accurate information or gaining detainee cooperation.”
But Cheney fiercely disagreed. The program, he claimed, “saved lives.”