Appearing on Meet the Press Sunday, former Vice President Dick Cheney steadfastly defended the torture methods used by the C.I.A. against detainees, or as he prefers to call it “enhanced interrogation.”
Cheney told Chuck Todd that torture was not chaining a nearly naked man to the floor of a cold room, dousing him with water and leaving him there until he succumbed to hypothermia. Torture, he said, was “an American citizen on a cell phone making a last call to his four young daughters shortly before he burns to death in the upper levels of the World Trade Center in New York City.”
As he had earlier last week, Cheney insisted that the Bush administration had worked very hard to avoid doing anything that would qualify as torture, and that they had cleared all techniques through legal counsel to make sure that no laws, domestic or international would be violated. He once again asserted that the Senate Intelligence Committee report was “a crock” as the response from the C.I.A. “proved.”
When asked about the forced rectal feeding and hydration employed on some prisoners, Cheney said that was done for medical reasons, not as torture. When Todd replied that the medical community has said that there is no medical reason for rectal feeding and hydration, Cheney refused to back down insisting “that was not something that was done as part of the interrogation program.” He told Todd that all he had to do to verify that “fact” was to read the book by the man who was in charge of the program and it would all become clear to him why it was necessary.
Over and over again he repeated that torture was what the terrorists did to 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001 and not what the C.I.A. did to suspected terrorists.
When Todd confronted him with the fact that many who were tortured and some who died in C.I.A. custody were proven completely innocent of any act of terrorism, Cheney the strict constitutionalist who often channels the founding fathers, parted ways with their belief that it was better to allow the guilty to go free than to punish one innocent, asserting that it was acceptable to torture or cause the death of innocent men as long as the guilty did not escape punishment.
Cheney repeatedly compared what the C.I.A. did with atrocities committed by others from the Japanese and North Vietnamese to al Qaeda and ISIS terrorists as if it made it somehow acceptable to commit heinous acts simply because someone else did or might do it.
Watch a clip from the interview below from NBC News.