TRANSCRIPT: ABC News' Jonathan Karl Interviews Vice President Dick Cheney

The Former Vice President talks about the killing of Osama Bin Laden

ByABC News
May 2, 2011, 4:23 PM

May 2, 2011 -- JONATHAN KARL: Mr. Vice President, thank you for taking time to talk to us on this day of all days. What went through your mind when you heard the news?

DICK CHENEY: Well, I first heard about it last night-- when the first press reports started coming in. You know, those of us who've been involved over the years in the counterterrorism program and dealing with 9/11 and so forth so of-- capturing Osama bin Laden was the ultimate goal. The ultimate objective. It doesn't solve all the problems by any means, but it's clearly been a priority for the last two administrations. And I think like most Americans I felt a great sense of satisfaction when I found out that we'd in fact captured and killed him.

JONATHAN KARL: Did you think about all those that have dedicated their lives to this? I mean obviously to this and the larger war on terror, but this?

DICK CHENEY: Well-- this, but it's-- it's-- I thought about the-- literally thousands of-- young Americans who put their lives on the line. Some of 'em even as we speak here today. But-- and-- and who've sacrificed everything in-- Afghanistan and Iraq-- in the pursuit of the safety and security and freedom of the American people.

And it's very hard to not think about them when you think about something like this. It's not just Bin Laden or just those that are involved in the counterterrorism effort. We've gotta cast the net broader than that. But I think it's a-- very special tribute that we all owe to the bravery and courage of the men and women in the intelligence and military business who performed so well to finally get it done.

It's taken a long time. They never gave up. They never backed off. They just kept pluggin' along until they got it right. And it also looks, at least on a preliminary basis, based on press accounts, that a lot of the things that we did early on fed into this ultimate success. And I think that means positive things too about the overall policy approach.

JONATHAN KARL: Have you spoken to President Bush about it?

DICK CHENEY: I have not. Not yet. Talked to Steve Adler this morning but I-- I expect to talk to President Bush about it too.

JONATHAN KARL: You heard I'm sure the President say last night that one of the first things he did was bring Leon Panetta in and tell him to make the capture or killing of Bin Laden the top priority. Does the President deserve credit?

DICK CHENEY: Well, I think the administration clearly deserves credit for the success of the operation. If you look at it from the perspective of the President, he's gotta make the basic judgment to tell the force to go execute. In this case the raid. And-- wrestle with deciding, you know, is this good enough intelligence. Can we act on it? And from what I can tell it looks to me like you know, we all owe him the same sense of satisfaction that I'm sure they feel.

JONATHAN KARL:Was that a change though, making Bin Laden the top priority?

DICK CHENEY: No, I don't think it was a change. I think it'd been a top priority since-- well, even before 9/11. Certainly was since 9/11, after 9/11 for-- the Bush administration. And-- I'm sure it was for the Obama administration as well too.

JONATHAN KARL: We're also hearing that a key piece of intelligence very early on came out of the interrogation program, the CIA's interrogation program: The nom de guerre of the courier.