Dick Cheney: Waterboarding Should Have Been An Option For Underwear Bomber

The Bush administration's biggest supporter of enhanced interrogation techniques is now saying that waterboarding should have been an option for the f
4 years ago by David
up

The Bush administration's biggest supporter of enhanced interrogation techniques is now saying that waterboarding should have been an option for the failed Christmas Day bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab.

"I think you ought to have all of those capabilities on the table," Cheney told ABC's Jonathan Karl Sunday."

Cheney went on to say he opposed the Bush administration's ban on waterboarding. "I was a big supporter of the enhanced techniques," he said.

A complete transcript of Cheney's interview with Jonathan Karl is available here.

John Amato:

Cheney basically helped create torture for the Bush administration...Why is Cheney back on TV anyway? Oh, to try and justify his war crimes. And for the media, that was an opinion since he hasn't been charged with one. And the media continues to let him make his case for torture.

And he squirms when the name Richard Reid is brought up because he has no answer for what the Bush/Cheney did on the shoe bomber case. They had three months to figure out what to do with Reid and Cheney says they didn't have enough time to get it together. He also passes the buck when Karl cornered him over not putting Reid into military custody.

KARL: OK. So -- so was it a mistake when your administration took on the Richard Reid case? This is very similar. This was somebody that was trying to blow up an airliner with a shoe bomb, and he was within five minutes of getting taken off that plane read his Miranda rights, four times, in fact, in 48 hours, and tried through the civilian system. Was that a mistake?

CHENEY: Well, first of all, I believe he was not tried. He pled guilty. They never did end up having a trial. Secondly, when this came up, as I recall, it was December of '01, just a couple of months after 9/11. We were not yet operational with the military commissions. We hadn't had all the Supreme Court decisions handed down about what we could and couldn't do with the commissions.

KARL: But you still had an option to put him into military custody.

CHENEY: Well, we could have put him into military custody. I don't-- I don't question that. The point is, in this particular case, all of

that was never worked out, primarily because he pled guilty.

Wow, nice try. Karl should have kept up the questions on Reid, but let him move off it and still hit him with evidence and events that undermined Cheney's arguments. A Reagan appointed judge spoke out about Reid that Cheney disagreed with and then Cheney had to distance himself from the Bush administration when they touted how many people were tried in the civilian courts.

Full Transcripts via ABC:

KARL: If you have somebody in custody like Abdulmutallab, after

just trying to blow up an airliner, and you think he has information on

another attack, I mean, do you think that those enhanced interrogation

techniques should have been -- should have been used? I mean, would you

-- do you think that he should have been, for instance, subject to

everything, including waterboarding?

CHENEY: Well, I think the -- the professionals need to make that

judgment. We've got people in -- we had in our administration -- I'm

sure they're still there -- many of them were career personnel -- who

are expects in this subject. And they are the ones that you ought to

turn somebody like Abdulmutallab over to, let them be the judge of

whether or not he's prepared to cooperate and how they can best achieve

his cooperation.

KARL: But you believe they should have had the option of everything

up to and including waterboarding?

CHENEY: I think you ought to have all of those capabilities on the

table. Now, President Obama has taken them off the table. He announced

when he came in last year that they would never use anything other than

the U.S. Army manual, which doesn't include those techniques. I think

that's a mistake.

KARL: OK. So -- so was it a mistake when your administration took

on the Richard Reid case? This is very similar. This was somebody that

was trying to blow up an airliner with a shoe bomb, and he was within

five minutes of getting taken off that plane read his Miranda rights,

four times, in fact, in 48 hours, and tried through the civilian

system. Was that a mistake?

CHENEY: Well, first of all, I believe he was not tried. He pled

guilty. They never did end up having a trial.

Secondly, when this came up, as I recall, it was December of '01,

just a couple of months after 9/11. We were not yet operational with

the military commissions. We hadn't had all the Supreme Court decisions

handed down about what we could and couldn't do with the commissions.

KARL: But you still had an option to put him into military custody.

CHENEY: Well, we could have put him into military custody. I don't

-- I don't question that. The point is, in this particular case, all of

that was never worked out, primarily because he pled guilty.

KARL: Now, I'd like to read you something that the sentencing judge

reading the -- giving him his life sentence read to Richard Reid at the

time of that sentencing. Here it is. He said to Reid, "You are not an

enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any

war. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier gives you far

too much stature. We do not negotiate with terrorists. We hunt them

down one by one and bring them to justice."

The judge in that case was a Reagan appointee. Doesn't he make a

good point?

CHENEY: Well, I don't think so, in a sense that it -- if it -- if

you interpret that as taking you to the point where all of these people

are going to be treated as though they're guilty of individual criminal

acts.

I want to come back again to the basic point I tried to make at the

outset, John. And up until 9/11, all terrorist attacks were criminal

acts. After 9/11, we made the decision that these were acts of war,

these were strategic threats to the United States.

Once you make that judgment, then you can use a much broader range

of tools, in terms of going after your adversary. You go after those

who provide them safe harbor and sanctuary. You go after those who

finance and those who provide weapons for them and those who train

them. And you treat them as unlawful enemy combatants.

There's a huge distinction here in terms of the kinds of policies

you put in place going forward. And what I'm most concerned about isn't

so much argument about all the stuff in the past, about what happened to

Abdulmutallab or Richard Reid. I think the relevant point is: What are

the policies going to be going forward?

And if you're really serious and you believe this is a war and if

you believe the greatest threat is a 9/11 with nukes or a 9/11 with a

biological agent of some kind, then you have to consider it as a war,

you have to consider it as something we may have to deal with tomorrow.

You don't want the vice president of the United States running around

saying, "Oh, it's not likely to happen."

KARL: Now, on that question of trying, you know, dealing as enemy

combatants or through the criminal justice system, I came across this.

This is a document that was put out by the Bush Justice Department under

Attorney General Ashcroft...

CHENEY: Right.

KARL: ... covering the years 2001 to 2005. And if you go right to

page one, they actually tout the criminal prosecutions...

CHENEY: They did.

KARL: ... of terror suspects, saying, "Altogether, the department

has brought charges against 375 individuals in terrorism- related

investigations and has convicted 195 to date." That was 2005. Again,

seems to make the administration's point that they're not doing it all

that differently from how you were doing it.

CHENEY: Well, we didn't all agree with that. We had -- I can

remember a meeting in the Roosevelt Room in the West Wing of the White

House where we had a major shootout over how this was going to be

handled between the Justice Department, that advocated that approach,

and many of the rest of us, who wanted to treat it as an intelligence

matter, as an act of war with military commissions.

We never clearly or totally resolved those issues. These are tough

questions, no doubt about it. You want my opinion, my view of what

ought to happen, I think we have to treat it as a -- as a war. This is a

strategic threat to the United States. I think that's why we were

successful for seven-and-a-half years in avoiding a further major attack

against the United States.

And I do get very nervous and very upset when that's the dominant

approach, as it was sometimes in the Bush administration or certainly

would appear to be at times in the new Obama administration.

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