The Slatest

Dick Cheney on CIA Torture: “I’d Do It Again in a Minute”

Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney listens as his wife Lynne Cheney speaks about her book James Madison: A Life Reconsidered on May 12, 2014 in Washington, D.C.  

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former Vice President Dick Cheney went on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday, and his appearance could basically be summarized in two words: no regrets. As long as the United States achieves its objective of preventing another 9/11—“It worked now for 13 years”—then Cheney has no problems with any of the techniques used by the CIA during his time in office. “I’d do it again in a minute,” Cheney said.

NBC’s Chuck Todd asks Cheney to define torture. “Well, torture, to me, Chuck, is an American citizen on a cellphone making a last call to his four young daughters shortly before he burns to death in the upper levels of the Trade Center,” Cheney answers, insisting that “we were very careful to stop short of torture.” When Todd wonders whether “involuntary rectal feeding and rectal hydration” meets that definition, Cheney avoids giving a straight answer. “What was done here apparently certainly was not one of the techniques that was approved. I believe it was done for medical reasons.” The Senate report said there was no evidence the technique was used due to a medical need.

Cheney also made it clear that he doesn’t lose much sleep over catching and torturing a few innocent people, describing it as the cost of doing business. “I’m more concerned with bad guys who got out and released than I am with a few that, in fact, were innocent,” Cheney said. The former vice president also said it was a “cheap shot” and a “flat-out lie” that former President George W. Bush didn’t know the full extent of the interrogation techniques that were being used. “This man knew what we were doing,” he said. “He authorized it. He approved it.”