Dick Cheney gave an unflinching defense of he CIA’s post-9/11 torture program on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, dismissing criticisms of the program’s forced rectal feedings, waterboarding and deaths.
“It worked. It absolutely did work,” said Cheney, a driving force behind the George W. Bush administration’s use of harsh tactics in response to the 9/11 attacks.
The Senate report on the interrogation program details forced rectal feedings that were medically unnecessary. But on Sunday, Cheney said the feedings were done for “medical reasons.” The former vice president showed little remorse for the dozens of prisoners who were found to have been wrongfully detained, for the man who died in the program, or for people like Khaled El-Masri — a German citizen who was shipped off to Afghanistan and sodomized in a case of mistaken identity.
“I’d do it again in a minute,” said Cheney. He also spoke repeatedly of how the program was justified to get the “bastards” who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks.
Cheney said he was more disturbed by the detainees released from Guantanamo and prisons in Iraq — many under his own administration — who have returned to the battlefield. He cited in particular the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was released from a U.S. prison in Iraq in 2004.
“I’m more concerned with bad guys,” said Cheney.
About the program’s serious errors — and the abuses that CIA Director John Brennan described as “abhorrent” on Thursday — Cheney said, “I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective.”
The Senate report has led to new calls for former Bush administration or CIA officials to be prosecuted for the torture program they oversaw, but Cheney on Sunday dismissed an appeal from Ben Emmerson, the UN Special rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights, to reopen inquires.
“I have little respect for the United Nations, or for this individual, who doesn’t have a clue,” said Cheney.
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