A contentious interview between former Vice President Dick Cheney and Meet the Press‘ Chuck Todd occurred Sunday as the two discussed the enhanced interrogation techniques used to acquire information from al Qaeda terrorists after 9/11. Cheney accused Todd of taking a cheap shot when he tried to draw parallels between the CIA’s tactics and the prosecution of Japanese war crimes after World War II.
Todd asked, “When you say waterboarding is not torture, then why did we prosecute Japanese soldiers after World War II for waterboarding?”
For a lot of stuff, not for waterboarding. They did an awful lot of other stuff. To draw some kind of moral equivalent between waterboarding — judged by our Justice Department not to be torture — and what the Japanese did with the Bataan Death March and the slaughter of thousands of Americans, with the Rape of Nanking and all of the other crimes they committed, that’s an outrage. It’s a really cheap shot, Chuck, to even try to draw a parallel between the Japanese who were prosecuted for war crimes after World War II and what we did with waterboarding with three individuals, all of whom are guilty and participated in the 9/11 attacks.
Earlier, Todd pleaded for an answer to what America owes the detainees who went under interrogation and were found to be innocent. He asked the former vice president if he is okay with the decision to employ these interrogation techniques on suspects even if they turn out to be innocent.
“I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective, and our objective is to get the guys who did 9/11 and it is to avoid another attack against the United States,” Cheney said unapologetically. He continued:
It worked! It worked — now for 13 years, we’ve avoided another mass-casualty attack against the United States. We did capture Bin Laden, we did capture an awful lot of the senior guys of al Qaeda who were responsible for that attack on 9/11. I’d do it again in a minute.
During the program, Cheney offered his definition of torture:
Torture to me, Chuck, is an American citizen on his cell phone making a last call to his four young daughters shortly before he burns to death in the upper levels of the Trade Center in New York City on 9/11.
There’s this notion that somehow there’s moral equivalence between what the terrorists did and what we do, and that’s absolutely not true.