LAUER: Enhanced interrogation techniques: In your book, you state bluntly you have no regrets about being in favor of things like waterboarding – I think you say even if circumstances were the same today you'd make the same decisions....If an American citizen were to be taken into captivity in Iran, for example, and the government of Iran were to look at that person and say, 'We think you're a spy for the U.S. or you're here to carry out a covert operation. Would it be okay for the Iranian government to waterboard that American citizen?
CHENEY: Well, we probably would object to it.
LAUER: On the grounds that it's torture?
CHENEY: On the grounds that we have obligations towards our citizens. And that we do everything we can to protect our citizens and to put them through a process that we think is appropriate.
LAUER: So why was it okay for us to use what most people would say was torture against terror suspects?
CHENEY: Well, remember, first of all, these were not American citizens. We weren't dealing with American citizens in the enhanced interrogation program. Secondly, it was people like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, there were a handful, two or three, for example, that actually got waterboarded. Third, we had good reason to believe they had information that we could only get from them and that they knew more than anybody else.
LAUER: But if the government of Iran were capture someone and say, 'We have reason to believe that you're a spy or you're carrying out an operation that could be damaging to our country, would you object or would you say they did what they had to do to get the information they needed at the time?
CHENEY: Well, I think we would object because we wouldn't expect an American citizen to be operating that way. When you're dealing with Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, for example, a man who was the self-admitted mastermind of 9/11, killed 3,000 Americans. And at a time when we had very little knowledge and understanding about Al Qaeda and what they were doing. And after we'd gone through a lot of other procedures and interrogation efforts, then at the end of that process, he was subjected to the program. It was very carefully supervised. None of the techniques used were things that we hadn't already used on our own people in training.
We object on the grounds that they are American citizens. Torturing a Saudi is one thing. Torturing an American is another. And we wouldn't expect an American in Iran to be operating as a spy. What can you say in the face of such absurdity.
Also worth reading is Greenwald's discussion of this Cheney book tour.