President Barack Obama for allowing the Justice Department to investigate CIA interrogations of terrorism suspects under the Bush administration.
In a statement dated Monday, Cheney called the decision a reminder of why so many Americans have doubts about the Obama administration's ability to handle national security.
Cheney said the interrogations carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency saved lives and prevented terrorist attacks. He said the employees involved deserve gratitude and do not deserve to be the "targets of political investigations or prosecutions." So far the White House has not reacted to Cheney's comments.
Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday that prosecutor John Durham will investigate whether personnel from the Central Intelligence Agency broke laws when interrogating terrorism suspects.
The CIA released a previously classified report Monday that said some interrogators may have used unauthorized techniques because they believed suspects were withholding information.
The report, completed in 2004, suggests that the harsh techniques did not yield useful information.
In one incident, the report says an interrogator told the alleged mastermind of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, that his children would be killed if another attack occurred.
In another case, the report says a gunshot was fired in a room next door, to make a suspect believe another detainee had been killed. Threatening a prisoner with imminent death violates U.S. law.
CIA Director Leon Panetta told agency employees that he intends to "stand up for" agents who followed the legal guidance they were given.
Also Monday, a spokesman for U.S. President Barack Obama said he had created a new elite team of interrogators to question key terrorism suspects.
White House spokesman Bill Burton said the team will be headquartered at the FBI and will bring together all "different elements" involved in interrogations, including intelligence and law enforcement agencies. He said the team will operate under government regulations that prohibit such measures as waterboarding (simulated drowning) that were permitted in the Bush administration. The group will be overseen by the National Security Council.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.