Former U.S. vice president Dick Cheney said the Central Intelligence Agency did exactly what the White House wanted in setting up an interrogation program for terror suspects following the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Cheney said in a Fox News interview Wednesday the program was designed to catch those responsible and make sure such an attack did not happen again.
He stressed that CIA deserves “a lot of credit,” and not condemnation, following the release of a Senate report that says harsh interrogations went beyond legal limits and failed to reveal actionable intelligence.
Cheney said Wednesday there may have been some problems with the program, but that officials “very carefully avoided torture.” He also insisted the interrogations yielded information that he called “vital” in preventing further attacks.
The Senate report detailed numerous instances of what it called CIA abuses against suspects that were “far more brutal” than had previously been disclosed. Methods used during the interrogations included confinement to small spaces, sleep deprivation, simulated drowning, ice baths, threatening to harm relatives and “rectal rehydration” — a form of feeding through the rectum.
Human rights activists are calling for the prosecution of officials involved in the CIA’s use of extreme interrogation methods.
On Wednesday, the Justice Department said the U.S. is committed to complying with its domestic and international obligations but would object to foreign prosecution of U.S. officials.
President Barack Obama said the abuses were terrible mistakes that should not be repeated. He banned the use of the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” when he took office in 2009.
The current CIA Director John Brennan acknowledged that the agency “did not always live up to the high standards” it set for itself, but disputed the Senate’s conclusion that the harsh interrogations were ineffective, saying they actually helped stop plots, capture terrorists, and save lives.
Pakistan responded to the report on Thursday, criticizing what Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam called the “systematic torture” of CIA detainees. She said international human rights and humanitarian law must be respected, and stressed the need for transparency.