'This Week' Transcript: Former Vice President Dick Cheney

There was talk earlier after they'd dismantled the system we'd put in place for prisoner interrogation of high-value detainees. They'd gone out supposedly to create the HIG, high-value interrogation program, but in reality, it was not up and running at Christmastime when it should have been. It started months before that, to put that in place. They need a process, a set of institutions that they can fall back on. Admittedly, this is hard. We had a hard time dealing with this. You've got the Supreme Court on one side that -- that is going to evaluate everything you do, and you've got to be careful with that. The Congress gets involved in it.

CHENEY: So I'm not saying it's an easy task, but by this point, when they've made all the decisions they've had, closed Guantanamo, end (ph) the high-value detainee program and so forth, I think those are all mistakes. Those were the tools we put in place to deal with this kind of situation. They should have had something to put in lieu of those programs, and it would look like they do not have -- have that kind of capability yet.

KARL: If you have somebody in custody like Abdulmutallab, after just trying to blow up an airliner, and you think he has information on another attack, I mean, do you think that those enhanced interrogation techniques should have been -- should have been used? I mean, would you -- do you think that he should have been, for instance, subject to everything, including waterboarding?

CHENEY: Well, I think the -- the professionals need to make that judgment. We've got people in -- we had in our administration -- I'm sure they're still there -- many of them were career personnel -- who are expects in this subject. And they are the ones that you ought to turn somebody like Abdulmutallab over to, let them be the judge of whether or not he's prepared to cooperate and how they can best achieve his cooperation.

KARL: But you believe they should have had the option of everything up to and including waterboarding?

CHENEY: I think you ought to have all of those capabilities on the table. Now, President Obama has taken them off the table. He announced when he came in last year that they would never use anything other than the U.S. Army manual, which doesn't include those techniques. I think that's a mistake.

KARL: OK. So -- so was it a mistake when your administration took on the Richard Reid case? This is very similar. This was somebody that was trying to blow up an airliner with a shoe bomb, and he was within five minutes of getting taken off that plane read his Miranda rights, four times, in fact, in 48 hours, and tried through the civilian system. Was that a mistake?

CHENEY: Well, first of all, I believe he was not tried. He pled guilty. They never did end up having a trial.

Secondly, when this came up, as I recall, it was December of '01, just a couple of months after 9/11. We were not yet operational with the military commissions. We hadn't had all the Supreme Court decisions handed down about what we could and couldn't do with the commissions.

KARL: But you still had an option to put him into military custody.

CHENEY: Well, we could have put him into military custody. I don't -- I don't question that. The point is, in this particular case, all of that was never worked out, primarily because he pled guilty.

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