Transcript: Cheney Defends Hard Line Tactics

KARL: In hindsight, do you think any of those tactics that were used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others went too far?

CHENEY: I don't.

KARL: What is your advice to President-elect Obama then on this? Because he's been quite critical. And he might have supported...

CHENEY: He has.

KARL: ... FISA. But President-elect Obama has been very critical of the counterterrorism policies of this administration.

CHENEY: Well, counterterrorism policy's designed to defeat the terrorists. It turns on intelligence. You can't do anything without collecting first-rate intelligence. And that's what these programs are all about.

I would argue that, for the new administration, how they deal with these issues are going to be very important, because it's going to have a direct impact on whether or not they retain the tools that have been so essential and defending the nation for the last seven-and-a-half years, or whether they give them up.

I think it's vital that they sit down and -- which I believe they're doing -- and look at the specific threat that's out there, to understand these programs and how they operate, and see the extent to which we were very cautious in terms of how we put them together, and then make a decision based on that with respect to whether or not they're going to continue. They shouldn't just fall back on campaign rhetoric to make these very fundamental decisions about the safety of the nation.

KARL: And what if he does fall back on campaign rhetoric and rolls back those policies?

CHENEY: Well...

KARL: What's the danger?

CHENEY: ... I think that would be -- I think that would be very unfortunate.

KARL: And on KSM, one of those tactics, of course, widely reported was waterboarding. And that seems to be a tactic we no longer use. Even that you think was appropriate?

CHENEY: I do.

KARL: More than two years ago, President Bush said that he was -- wanted to close down Guantanamo Bay. Why has that not happened?

CHENEY: It's very hard to do. Guantanamo has been the repository, if you will, of hundreds of terrorists, or suspected terrorists, that we've captured since 9/11. They -- many of them, hundreds -- have been released back to their home countries. What we have left is the hard core.

Their cases are reviewed on an annual basis to see whether or not they're still a threat, whether or not they're still intelligence value in terms of continuing to hold them.

But -- and we're down now to some 200 being held at Guantanamo. But that includes the core group, the really high-value targets like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Now, the question: If you're going to close Guantanamo, what are you going to do with those prisoners?

One suggestion is, well, we bring them to the United States. Well, I don't know very many congressmen, for example, who are eager to have 200 al Qaeda terrorists deposited in their district. It's a complex and difficult problem. If you bring them onshore into the United States, they automatically acquire a certain legal rights and responsibilities that the government would then have, that they don't as long as they're at Guantanamo. And that's an important consideration.

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