A defiant former vice president Dick Cheney ceded no ground Sunday in his defense of the United States’ brutal interrogation of terrorist suspects, saying he is confident that the program protected American lives.
“We’ve avoided another mass-casualty attack against the United States,” Cheney told interviewer Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press. “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,” he added.
The former vice president’s remarks were part of a vigorous pushback against a report about a five-year investigation released last week by the Senate Intelligence Committee that described the violent methods used on CIA detainees.
Cheney rejected the idea that waterboarding and other tactics used in an attempt to glean intelligence amounted to torture.
“There’s this notion that somehow there’s moral equivalence between what the terrorists did and what we do,” he said. “And that’s absolutely not true. We were very careful to stop short of torture.”
Cheney repeatedly said that the techniques used were authorized by President George W. Bush and sanctioned by the Justice Department.
He called the suggestion that Bush was not fully aware of the program “a flat-out lie.”
“This man knew what we were doing,” Cheney said. “He authorized it. He approved of it.”
The former vice president shrugged off questions by Todd about the large share of detainees who were mistakenly swept up into the program.
“I’m more concerned with bad guys that got out and released than I am with a few that were innocent,” Cheney said.