Former Vice President Dick Cheney said on Sunday, that he had no regrets about the course of actions he and the Bush administration pursued when it came to interrogating suspected terrorists or, more broadly, waging the war on terror.
"No regrets," Cheney declared during an appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation." "I think it was absolutely the right thing to do. I am convinced, absolutely convinced, that we saved thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives."
The interview was another in a wave of post-White House remarks from the controversial former vice president. On Sunday, Cheney insisted that he was speaking out because "the issues are so important." President Obama, he added, had "moved to take down a lot of those policies we put in place to keep the nation safe for eight years."
His public appearances have not been without controversy. Cheney has often taken the hardest of partisan lines against the current president and voiced the loudest public defenses of harsh interrogation techniques. Sunday was much of the same, with the former VP insisting the Bush administration had tried less controversial interrogation approaches to limited effect.
"Remember what happened here," he said. "We had captured these people. We had pursued interrogation in a normal way. We decided that we needed some enhanced techniques. So we went to the Justice Department and the controversy has arisen over the opinions written by the Justice Department. The reason we went to the Justice Department wasn't because we felt we were going to take some kind of freehand assault on these people, that we were in the torture business. We weren't. ... if we had been about torture we wouldn't have wasted our time going to the Justice Department."
Perhaps the most remarkable moment of the interview, however, came when Cheney was asked if President Bush himself had signed off on the interrogation program. His response left the impression that Bush was brought into the loop only as a legal or political formality.
"I certainly have every reason to believe that he knew a great deal about the program," he said. "He basically authorized it. I mean, this was a presidential level decision. And the decision went to the president. He signed off on it."