“I think it is a terrible report, deeply flawed,” Cheney said on Fox News, his first televised interview since the report’s release. “It’s a classic example of where politicians get together and throw professionals under the bus.”
Cheney said he had not read the entire 6,000-page classified document, drafted by Democrats and their staffs on the Senate Intelligence Committee, or the 500-page declassified and redacted executive summary. But he unequivocally said its findings were flawed and an affront to members of the CIA.
“The notion that the agency was operating on a rogue basis was just a flat out lie,” Cheney said.
He insisted the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques were all legally justified and inconsistent with “torture,” though he conceded that the practice of “rectal rehydration” mentioned in the report, “was not one of the authorized or approved techniques.”
Cheney said he also rejects the allegation that his boss, President George W. Bush, was kept in the dark. “He was in fact an integral part of the program. He had to approve it before we moved forward with it,“ Cheney said. “He knew everything he needed to know and wanted to know about the program.”
While the brutal and graphic descriptions of the techniques have dominated headlines and been labeled “torture” by President Obama, Cheney says critics have lost sight of the context.
The former vice president said he’s particularly bothered by criticism over the treatment of Khalid Sheilk Mohammad, the alleged mastermind of 9/11. “He is in our possession, we know he’s the architect [of the attacks], what are we supposed to do? Kiss him on both cheeks?“ Cheney said.
“How nice do you want to be to the murderers of 3,000 people on 9/11?”
Asked whether the ends justify the means when it comes to brutal interrogations, Cheney said, “absolutely.”