Cheney: Waterboarding not torture, reinstate it

Although it isn’t precisely clear what role so-called enhanced interrogation methods had in the U.S. mission to kill Osama bin Laden, on Sunday former Vice President Dick Cheney took to the airwaves to make the case that such interrogation methods are a vital tool to fight terrorism.

Cheney appeared on “Fox News Sunday” and was asked by show host Chris Wallace if President Barack Obama should “reinstate” enhanced interrogation, including waterboarding. Cheney made the case and said the Bush administration did their homework before initiating the policy.

“Well, I certainly would advocate it,” Cheney replied. “I’d be a strong supporter of it. We went to a lot of trouble to find out what we could do, how far we could go, what was legal and so forth. Out of that emerged what we called enhanced interrogation. It worked. It provided some absolutely vital pieces of intelligence. There is a study that was done by the CIA in the National Archives, some of it has been declassified now, that shows that enhanced interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed provided a vast treasure trove if you will of intelligence. It was a good program. It was a legal program. It was not torture. I would strongly recommend we continue it.”

Wallace pointed out that soon-to-be Defense Secretary and CIA director Leon Panetta said it was torture, even though he acknowledged the enhanced interrogation program had a role in tracking down Osama bin Laden.

“I disagree – the lawyers disagreed when we asked them for their opinion,” Cheney said. “And where we should draw the line in terms of what we could and couldn’t do. Waterboarding and all of the other techniques that were used are techniques that we use training our own people. This is stuff that we’ve done for years with own military personnel. And to suggest it’s torture I just think is wrong.”

Cheney said he would reinstate waterboarding and explained how it was just as essential as the terrorist surveillance program.

“If it were my call, I’d have the program ready to go on the chance that any day we may capture a detainee who has vital piece of information about next attack or new development,” Cheney said. “I think that program provides us with the capacity to collect that intelligence. And again, that program together with our terrorist surveillance program – those two things I think are the most important steps we took that kept us safe for seven years.”