Cheney Slams Obama Decision to Investigate CIA Interrogators

Fmr. VP ramps up rhetoric on White House' handling of national security policy.

ByABC News
August 24, 2009, 7:10 PM

Aug. 25, 2009— -- Former Vice President Dick Cheney slammed the Obama Administration for its decision to appoint a prosecutor to review and investigate whether CIA interrogators violated U.S. torture statues, saying the move calls into question its ability to protect the nation.

"President Obama's decision to allow the Justice Department to investigate and possibly prosecute CIA personnel, and his decision to remove authority for interrogation from the CIA to the White House, serves as a reminder, if any were needed, of why so many Americans have doubts about this administration's ability to be responsible for our nation's security," the former vice president said in a statement Monday.

Cheney said the intelligence gained from interrogations of terror suspects "saved lives and prevented terrorist attacks."

"The people involved deserve our gratitude. They do not deserve to be the targets of political investigations or prosecutions," he said.

The CIA released the documents Monday that former Vice President Dick Cheney requested earlier this year in an attempt to prove his assertion that using enhanced interrogation techniques on terror detainees saved U.S. lives.

The documents back up the Bush administration's claims that intelligence gleaned from captured terror suspects had thwarted terrorist attacks, but the visible portions of the heavily redacted reports do not indicate whether such information was obtained as a result of controversial interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding.

Cheney's initial request in the spring that the documents be declassified was rejected by the CIA. Lawmakers derided his claims that the harsh interrogation techniques were necessary. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a May 27 speech that "those classified documents say nothing about numbers of lives saved, nor do the documents connect acquisition of valuable intelligence to the use of abusive techniques."

Cheney has been a fierce public critic of the Obama White House's handling of national security policy.

In May, the former vice president squared off against Obama, giving a competing speech as the president defended his terrorism policies and decision to close the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay.

"The administration seems to pride itself on searching for some kind of middle ground in policies addressing terrorism," Cheney said in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. "But in the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half exposed."

"I was and remain a strong proponent of our enhanced interrogation program," Cheney added later in the speech. "The interrogations were used on hardened terrorists after other efforts failed. They were legal, essential, justified, successful, and the right thing to do."

The Department of Justice compiled a list of documents released late Monday evening, related to a 2004 CIA Inspector General report on enhanced interrogation techniques that was released today. The two documents that Cheney requested were part of that release, but were made public early by the CIA.

One of the CIA documents, entitled "Detainee Reporting Pivotal for the War Against al-Qaeda," and dated June 3, 2005, says "detainee reporting has become a crucial pillar of U.S. counterterrorism efforts, aiding intelligence and law enforcement operations to capture additional terrorists, helping to thwart terrorist plots, and advancing our analysis of the al-Qaeda target."

The report is heavily redacted and, at times, it is unclear which detainees are being discussed. The report does not describe any intelligence gained as result of enhanced interrogation techniques.

The report does state that intelligence from detainees has resulted in the thwarting of terror plans.