I guess Chuck didn't want to let Fox "news" corner the market on allowing former Vice President Dick Cheney to come on the air and lie, obfuscate, and attempt to defend the findings in the recently released Senate torture report, because I can think of no other reason to give this war criminal twenty minutes of air time to try to whitewash the torture and crimes that occurred under the watch of the Bush administration.
The portion of the interview where he lied about the Japanese being prosecuted for waterboarding was nothing compared to the first portion of the segment, where Cheney's answer to everything was pretty much "we didn't torture"... "we didn't torture" while defending doing just that.
After a nice chummy introduction, Todd asked Cheney about the Senate report and asked him what the definition of torture is, and he immediately played the "torture is what happened on 9-11 card."
CHUCK TODD: Good morning. Some late news, last night this Senate approved a $1.1 trillion spending bill. It will fund the government through next September. Bottom line, no government shutdown this year or perhaps next as well. But let's get to our big story, the Senate report on what some call torture, what others call enhanced interrogation techniques.
The report put together by Senate Democrats on the intelligence committee. It's a detailed and, in some cases, shocking indictment of the methods used to interrogate detainees. There's no shortage of critics of what C.I.A. did. And there's has been no more forceful defender of the tactics than our first guest, former Vice President Dick Cheney. So let's get right to it. Vice President Cheney, welcome back to Meet the Press.
DICK CHENEY: Morning, Chuck. It's good to be back.
CHUCK TODD: Well, let me start with quoting you. You said earlier this week, "Torture was something that was very carefully avoided." It implies that you have a definition of what torture is. What is it?
DICK CHENEY: Well, torture, to me, Chuck, is 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 Trade Center in New York City on 9/11. There's this notion that somehow there's moral equivalence between what the terrorists and what we do. And that's absolutely not true. We were very careful to stop short of torture. The Senate has seen fit to label their report torture. But we worked hard to stay short of that definition.
Todd pushed back when he refused to answer and of course his next move was to hide behind the Justice Department and pretend that makes their actions acceptable.
CHUCK TODD: Well, what is that definition?
DICK CHENEY: Definitions, and one that was provided by the Office of Legal Counsel, we went specifically to them because we did not want to cross that line into where we violating some international agreement that we'd signed up to. They specifically authorized and okayed, for example, exactly what we did. All of the techniques that were authorized by the president were, in effect, blessed by the Justice Department opinion that we could go forward with those without, in fact, committing torture.
Which led to the most disgusting portion of this whole interview, where Cheney defended "rectal hydration" and shrugged off whether or not we tortured innocent prisoners, or the fact that we killed a man. Nothing matters as long as we're supposedly "keeping the country safe." Of course, Todd didn't ask him how anally raping prisoners is supposed to protect Americans.
CHUCK TODD: Let me go through some of those techniques that were used, Majid Khan, was subjected to involuntary rectal feeding and rectal hydration. It included two bottles of Ensure, later in the same day Majid Khan's lunch tray consisting of hummus, pasta, sauce, nuts and raisins was pureed and rectally infused.
DICK CHENEY: That wasn't--
CHUCK TODD: Does that meet the definition of torture?
DICK CHENEY: --that does not meet the definition of what was used in the program as--
CHUCK TODD: I understand. But does that meet the definition of torture in your mind?
DICK CHENEY: --in my mind, I've told you what meets the definition of torture. It's what 19 guys armed with airline tickets and box cutters did to 3,000 Americans on 9/11. What was done here apparently certainly was not one of the techniques that was approved. I believe it was done for medical reasons.
CHUCK TODD: I mean, medical community has said there is no medical--
DICK CHENEY: If you go and look, for example, at Jose Rodriguez book, and he was the guy running the program, he's got a very clear description of how, in fact, the program operated. With respect to that I think the agency has answered it and its response to the committee report and I--
CHUCK TODD: --but you acknowledge this was over and above.
DICK CHENEY: --that was not something that was done as part of the interrogation program.
CHUCK TODD: But you won't call it torture.
DICK CHENEY: It wasn't torture in terms of it wasn't part of the program.
CHUCK TODD: Let me ask you this, we've got Riyadh al-Najjar. He had handcuffing on one or both of his wrists to an overhead bar, would not allow him to lower his arms. Twenty-two hours each day for two consecutive days in order to break his resistance. Al-Najjar was also wearing a diaper and had no access to toilet facility. Was that acknowledged? Was that part of the program that you approved?
DICK CHENEY: I can't tell from that specific whether it was or not.
CHUCK TODD: And then--
DICK CHENEY: I know we had--
CHUCK TODD: --page 53 of the report.
DICK CHENEY: --the report is seriously flawed. They didn't talk to anybody who knew anything about the program. They didn't talk to anybody within the program. The best guide for what in fact happened is the one that's the report that was produced by the three C.I.A. directors and deputy directors of the C.I.A. when this program was undertaken.
And, in fact, it lays out in very clear terms what we did and how we did it. And with respect to trying to define that as torture I come back to the proposition torture was what the Al Qaeda terrorists did to 3,000 Americans on 9/11. There's no comparison between that and what we did with inspect-enhanced interrogation.
CHUCK TODD: I guess--
DICK CHENEY: So not true.
CHUCK TODD: --but some of these tactics went above and beyond what was improved.
DICK CHENEY: But--
CHUCK TODD: I mean, here's another one. Let me read you another one here. With Abu Zubaydah, over a 20-day period, aggressive interrogations. Spent a total of 266 hours, 11 days, two hours, in a large coffin-sized confinement box, 29 hours in a small confinement box, width of 21 inches, depth of 2.5 feet, height of 2.5 feet. That's on page 42.
CHUCK TODD: Is that going to meet the standard--
DICK CHENEY: I think that was--
CHUCK TODD: --of the definition of torture?
DICK CHENEY: --I think that was, in fact, one of the approved techniques. In terms of torture I guess what I do, I was struck, for example, by the statements by Bud Day and Leo Thorsness and Admiral Denton. These are three folks who were captured by the North Vietnamese, held for a year, subject to extreme torture. And all of whom said that waterboarding was not torture.
Now you can look for various definitions. We did what was, in fact, required to make certain that going forward we were not violating the law. And the law, as interpreted by the justice department, the Office of Legal Counsel was very clear. And the techniques that we did, in fact, use that the president authorized that produced results, that gave us the information we needed to be able to safeguard the nation against further attacks and to be able to track those guilty for 9/11 did, in fact, work. Now the Senate committee partisan operation, no Republicans involved, no interviews of anybody involved itself--
CHUCK TODD: It's all C.I.A. documentation--
DICK CHENEY: It's, Chuck--
CHUCK TODD: --in here. It is all C.I.A. documentation.
DICK CHENEY: --Chuck, if you look at it and you look at what the people running the agency said and what Jose Rodriguez said who ran the program, he's a good man, that, as I said the other day, I won't use the word on your show. It may be family, it's a crock. It's not true. And it's not--
CHUCK TODD: Have you read more of the report since?
DICK CHENEY: --I've read parts of it. The whole report hasn't even been released.
CHUCK TODD: Right, all you've gotten is the 500 page.
DICK CHENEY: Yeah, all you've got--
CHUCK TODD: This is the executive summary.
DICK CHENEY: --is the summary. Go read what the directors of the agency said about the report. They were extremely critical of it as were the Republicans who served on the committee. It's a flawed report. It didn't begin to approach what's required by way of responsive oversight.
CHUCK TODD: Does it plant any seed of doubt of you in though?
DICK CHENEY: No.
CHUCK TODD: No seed of doubt at all? All this--
DICK CHENEY: Absolutely not.
CHUCK TODD: --all of this information in here, no seed of doubt that whether this worked or not.
DICK CHENEY: It worked. It absolutely did work.
CHUCK TODD: Let me ask you, what do you say to Gul Rahman, what do you say to Sulaiman Abdula, what do you say to Khalid al-Masri? All three of these folks were detained, they had these interrogation techniques used on them. They eventually were found to be innocent. They were released, no apologies, nothing. What do we owe them?
DICK CHENEY: Well--
CHUCK TODD: I mean, let me go to Gul Rahman. He was chained to the wall of his cell, doused with water, froze to death in C.I.A. custody. And it turned out it was a case of mistaken identity.
DICK CHENEY: --right. But the problem I had is with the folks that we did release that end up back on the battlefield. Of the 600 and some people who were released out of Guantanamo, 30% roughly ended up back on the battlefield. Today we're very concerned about ISIS. Terrible new terrorist organization.
It is headed by named Baghdadi. Baghdadi was in the custody of the U.S. military in Iraq in Camp Bucca. He was let go and now he's out leading the terror attack against the United States. I'm more concerned with bad guys who got out and released than I am with a few that, in fact, were innocent.
CHUCK TODD: 25% of the detainees though, 25% turned out to be innocent. They were released.
DICK CHENEY: Where are you going to draw the line, Chuck? How are--
CHUCK TODD: Well, I'm asking you.
DICK CHENEY: --you going to know?
CHUCK TODD: Is that too high? You're okay with that margin for error?
DICK CHENEY: I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective. And our objective is to get the guys who did 9/11 and it is to avoid another attack against the United States. I was prepared and we did. We got authorizing from the president and authorization from the Justice Department to go forward with the program. It worked. It worked now for 13 years.
We've avoided another mass casualty attack against the United States. And we did capture Bin Laden. We did capture an awful lot of the senior guys at Al Qaeda who were responsible for that attack on 9/11. I'd do it again in a minute.
If the Obama administration had held these people accountable for their actions, this ghoul would not be appearing on Meet the Press as unrepentant as ever. He'd be sitting in a jail cell about now.