Several George W. Bush administration officials defended the tactics used to interrogate terrorism suspects
Their defense came after the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on the issue
Dick Cheney sharply criticized the report and said he'd use the same tactics again "in a minute"
Former Vice President Dick Cheney led a parade of George W. Bush administration officials who denounced a report on harsh interrogation techniques used against terrorism suspects, saying he would “do it again in a minute.”
Defenders of the CIA’s use of interrogation techniques used the weekend’s news programs to make a passionate case, following the release of a scathing report, composed by Senate Democrats, condemning the Bush-era practices.
In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Cheney said the methods described in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report – including mock executions, rectal feeding and sleep deprivation – don’t amount to torture.
Torture, Cheney said, “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 do and what we do. And that’s absolutely not true,” he said. “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.”
The Republican added that he had no regrets about the techniques used by the Bush administration. He called the Senate panel’s report “seriously flawed” and said the committee should have talked to officials involved in the interrogation program.
“I would do it again in a minute,” he said.
Michael Mukasey, Bush’s attorney general, said the Senate panel’s investigators cherry-picked the evidence they included in the report.
The report, he said in an interview with John Catsimatidis on AM 970, is “jam-packed with untruths” and will “demoralize the CIA.”
“It’s even worse than that,” he said. “They were cherry-picking, throwing away the cherries and they printed the pits.”
One of the report’s bombshell assertions was that the CIA kept details of its tactics from Bush. The president’s former top political adviser, Karl Rove, said that’s untrue in an interview with “Fox News Sunday.”
Rove said Bush was briefed on the CIA’s tactics and authorized some of the specific ones that were used.
“He made the decision. He was presented, I believe, 12 techniques. He authorized the use of 10 of them, including waterboarding,” Rove said.
All Republicans weren’t as defensive of the Bush administration’s tactics. Arizona Sen. John McCain argued the tactics outlined in the report do amount to torture, and said he would “urge everyone to just read the report.”
“These are the communications within the CIA as to what happened,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “You can’t claim that tying someone to the floor and have them freeze to death is not torture. You can’t say 183 times someone is waterboarded.”
McCain said calling the tactics used under Bush “EITs” – an acronym for enhanced interrogation techniques – is “Orwellian.”