WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Dick Cheney stood by the CIA’s controversial torture program and said interrogation techniques like waterboarding should still be in place.
“It worked,” Cheney told Maria Bartiromo in an interview that aired on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”
Cheney helped launch the program after the 9/11 terrorist attacks under President George W. Bush and credited the information obtained from detainees – especially 9/11 planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — for making the country safer.
“He’s the guy that got waterboarded more than anybody else. I think what we did helped ultimately produce the intelligence we needed to be able to get (Osama) bin Laden,” Cheney said.
Cheney still doesn’t consider waterboarding illegal or torture.
“If it were my call, I would not discontinue those programs,” he said. “I’d have them active and ready to go, and I’d go back and study them and learn.”
The CIA’s interrogation program is in the spotlight again as Gina Haspel — who once ran a secret Thailand prison that used waterboarding — is poised to become CIA director, if she can get confirmed by the US Senate.
Under a tough grilling last week, Haspel pledged she would not restart the waterboarding program, even if pressured by President Trump — who has supported bringing back waterboarding or something worse. Haspel, however, declined to say whether waterboarding is immoral.
That answer unsettled many Democrats, who don’t want to promote someone directly involved in a program they believe was a stain on American values.
Haspel defended the work of the CIA at the time and said the interrogation program was deemed legal then.
“We got valuable information from debriefing Al-Qaeda detainees,” Haspel told senators last week. “I don’t think it’s knowable whether interrogation techniques played a role in that.”
Though Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is urging the Senate to reject Haspel, her confirmation seems likely now that two red-state Democrats have offered their support: Sens. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)
Cheney said he didn’t know Haspel personally, but backs her nomination: “I think she’d be a great CIA director.”
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