Waterboarding was ‘well done,’ Cheney says
BY JOHN BYRNE
Published: June 1, 2009
On Iraq and 9/11: ‘That’s not something I made up’
Former Vice President Dick Cheney is usually very careful at choosing his words.
Perhaps not so today. In a speech Monday at the National Press Club, continuing along familiar themes of terrorism, Guantánamo and his hatred for The New York Times, Cheney spoke defensively of the administration’s practice of water-boarding detainees.
“I don’t believe we tortured,” Cheney remarked, noting that the interrogation techniques approved by the Bush administration were vetted by White House lawyers. They didn’t cross a “red line,” he said.
And then he delivered the whopper: “There were three people who were water-boarded…. It was well-done.”
The former vice president also made an odd comment about detainees being held at Guantánamo Bay.
He framed their detention as a choice between two options: either we imprison them, or we kill them.
“We need Guantánamo… If we didn’t have it, we’d need to (invent) it,” Cheney remarked. “If you don’t have a place to hold these people, the only other option is to kill them.”
“We don’t operate that way,” he added.
Cheney’s comments were transcribed by The Swamp, the blog of the Chicago Tribune.
“If I had it to do all over again, I would do exactly the same thing,” he continued. “I don’t have much tolerance or patience for those who have the benefit of hindsight eight years later and have forgotten what happened on 9/11…. Just imagine, what would happen if you had 19 men in one of our cities… armed with a nuclear weapon or (a biological weapon).”
He also laid it thick on The New York Times:
“We found ourselves in a situation where The New York Times received a leak – we called them into the Oval Office,” Cheney said. “The publisher, the editor and the Washington Bureau chief… all came down to the Oval Office and talked to the president,” where they were told that writing about the program would let terrorists know the U.S. is reading their mail and would break some laws.) “They went ahead and they published it anyway, and their award for doing it was they won the Pulitzer.”
“My own personal view is that damaged our security,” he said.
“I think it’s going to be very difficult to close Guantánamo,” Cheney said. “The New York Times again, one of my favorite publications… referred to the prisoners at Guantánamo as abductees… These are bad actors…. The ones that are left, these are the worst of the worst… There is not a lot of great demand out around the country to have those folks shipped to the nearest facility.”And about Iraq and 9/11: “That’s not something I made up.”
“The prime source of information on the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda was George Tenet,” the former CIA director, Cheney said. “There was a relationship between al Qaeda and Iraq that stretched back 10 years. That’s not something I made up… That’s something the director of the CIA was telling us.
He added: “We know that he was making $25,000 payments to the families of suicide bombers… We know there were other terrorists… who had found safe harbor in Iraq over the years. I do not believe, and I have never seen any evidence to confirm, that he was involved in 9/11… But the fact of Saddam Hussein being a terrorist-sponsoring state… was, I think, a fact.”
What he didn’t say was that the Times held their story about the Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program for a year after they first had it — which meant the story stayed out of the news in 2004, when Cheney and President Bush were running for reelection.
This video is from C-SPAN, broadcast June 1, 2009.
Video At Source