I'm not sure what's more infuriating here, listening to Orrin Hatch pretend he doesn't know full well that what was done to the prisoners in our custody was torture, or John Kerry defending the Obama administration's decision not to go after the ones at the top who ordered it, and then smile and nod politely while Hatch spins.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. Let me move to another issue that came up earlier this week. The attorney general decided to investigate possible CIA abuses in the prisoner interrogation cases.
And Vice President Cheney this morning has blasted that decision by the attorney general.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: The approach of the Obama administration should be to come to those people who were involved in that policy and say, how did you do it? What were the keys to keeping the country safe over that period of time?
Instead, they're out there now threatening to disbar the lawyers who gave us the legal opinions, threatening, contrary to what the president originally said, they were going to go out and investigate the CIA personnel who carried out those investigations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: He called it an outrageous and possibly dangerous act.
KERRY: Well, Dick Cheney has shown through the years, frankly, a disrespect for the Constitution, for sharing of information with Congress, respect for the law, and I'm not surprised that he is upset about this.
The Obama administration has no intention -- I think the president himself has been unbelievably bending in the direction of trying to be careful about what happens to national security, protecting our national security interests, being very sensitive about the CIA's prerogatives and needs and so forth.
And in fact, I think there is a little bit of a tension between the White House itself and the lawyers in the Justice Department as they see the law and as what their obligation is.
And in a sense, that's good. That's appropriate, because it shows that we have an attorney general who is not pursuing a political agenda, but who is doing what he believes the law requires him to do.
And we have an administration, on the other hand, that is balancing some of those other interests.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The vice president also said that he believes that CIA officials who went outside the bounds of the guidelines they were given were justified. Do you agree with that?
HATCH: There is a real question whether they went outside of the bounds that they were given at the time. Look, I -- as the longest- serving person in the Senate Intelligence Committee, I've got to tell you, we don't want to cripple our ability to be able, in very crucial times, to get the information we've got to have to save our country and to protect our people.
I think what Dick Cheney is arguing for -- and look, how can anybody argue that Cheney has been a great asset to the country in so many ways? He is a tough guy, there is no question. He differs from the so-called progressives in the Congress.
And I really question, after all of the investigations were done, some prosecutions that were waged, and most of this material was decided not to go forward, to now go forward with this, I really question whether the attorney general is doing what is right.
And look, the attorneys, maybe you can question the opinions, but they were sincere opinions. I know the attorneys involved. They were wonderful, wonderful...
HATCH: ... lawyers who...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... they're not going to be investigating that part.
HATCH: Well, they shouldn't investigate that part. And nor should they be prosecuting people who acted under good faith following advice of the lawyers in the department.
So, you know, and what they're doing is crippling the CIA where they're going to be unwilling to really take the risks that have to be taken during really crucial times.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Afraid that's all we have time for today. Gentlemen, thank you both very much for coming in this morning.
KERRY: Thanks, good to be with you, George.
HATCH: It's nice to be with you, George.
KERRY: Thank you.
I guess it's too much to ask that George Stephanopoulos might ask either of them about Congress' initial reaction to seeing the photos from Abu Ghraib. 'Hellish' torture images shock US lawmakers:
Washington - Members of the United States congress saw new images of violence and sexual humiliation from a US-run Iraqi prison on Wednesday in a closed viewing one lawmaker likened to a descent into "the wings of hell".
Lawmakers said images showed inmates apparently being coerced to commit sodomy, wounds possibly from dog bites, a number of dead bodies, and examples of "sadistic torture" and "sexual humiliation."
Some top Republicans urged that the still pictures and video not be released publicly, saying they could endanger US forces overseas.
'What we saw is appalling'
"What we saw is appalling. It is consistent with the photos that you've seen in the press to date. They go beyond that in many ways in terms of the various activities that are depicted," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican.
"There were some awful scenes. It felt like you were descending into one of the wings of hell and sadly it was our own creation," said Senator Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat. "And when you think of the sadism, the violence, the sexual humiliation, after a while you just turn away, you just can't take it any more."
"I still cannot believe that this happened without the knowledge of those at higher levels," Durbin added.
Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned last week the pictures could worsen a scandal that ignited international outrage and shook US global prestige as the United States seeks to stabilise Iraq.
Senators and members of the House of Representatives had a chance over several hours to look at about 1 600 images in separate secure rooms in a presentation conducted by the Pentagon, which kept custody of the material.