Former US Vice President Dick Cheney
Source: Press TV
Former US Vice President Dick Cheney has praised harsh interrogation techniques such as waterboarding, saying they should be reinstated for intelligence-gathering purposes.
In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, Cheney claimed that torture methods used against alleged terror suspects when he was serving during the Bush administration contributed to the tracking down of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, who was reportedly killed last week in Pakistan, AFP reported.
"All have said one way or the other that the enhanced interrogation program played a role," said Cheney, adding that "My guess is that's probably the case that it contributed, just as did a number of other factors."
When asked whether harsh techniques such as waterboarding should be brought back if the US were to hunt a new target of high value, Cheney insisted, "I certainly would advocate it. I'd be a strong supporter of it."
The former vice president went on to shrug off the tide of outside criticism that the use of waterboarding, or simulated drowning, is tantamount to torture, claiming that former officials in the George W. Bush administration tried very hard to ensure that what they did was legal.
"Waterboarding and all of the other techniques that were used are techniques that we use training our own people," Cheney noted. "This is stuff that we've done for years with own military personnel and to suggest that it's torture I just think is wrong."
Meanwhile, in a separate interview with CBS, Bush-era Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld also came out in support of Cheney's stance and against the banning of the inhumane practice.
"I think that it's clear that those techniques that the CIA used worked. And to have taken them away and ruled them out I think may be a mistake," said Rumsfeld on Sunday.
The 78-year-old veteran politician also claimed that a major fraction of intelligence the US has on al-Qaeda has been extracted through the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques.
US President Barack Obama issued an executive order on January 20, 2009 banning torture at interrogations in US prisons amid calls for immediate closure of Guantanamo prison.
In January, however, Obama signed a major defense bill, effectively preventing the closure of the notorious US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, where 173 suspects are held in captivity with no hope of a fair trial amid widespread reports of illegal interrogation techniques practiced there.