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Former US VP Cheney Defends Iraq War, Waterboarding


Former Vice President Dick Cheney addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington (File)

Former Vice President Dick Cheney addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington (File)

Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney has defended controversial policies carried out by the administration of President George W. Bush, including the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the harsh interrogation tactic of waterboarding.

In an interview aired on NBC television Tuesday, Cheney said he was a "big advocate" of pursuing controversial policies in order to keep the country safe.

Cheney said he does not believe the Iraq War damaged the U.S. reputation around the world. He called going after then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein the "right policy" and he said he advocated it.

Cheney is promoting his new book In my Time: A Personal and Political Memoir.

In the book, the former vice president defends waterboarding and other tough interrogation practices, saying the program enabled the country to prevent attacks and save American lives. Many people say waterboarding amounts to torture, and in the NBC interview, Cheney said the U.S. would object to another country subjecting an American to the technique. He said the U.S. government has obligations to its citizens and does everything it can to protect them.

Cheney has denied waterboarding is torture, and has said the U.S. only used it on two or three people, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He argued that the interrogation program was "very carefully supervised" and said the government learned valuable information from it and kept the country safe for more than seven years.

Outside the U.S. Justice Department in Washington Tuesday, the human rights group Amnesty International staged a protest urging Attorney General Eric Holder to open a criminal investigation of Cheney and former President Bush. Amnesty says waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques amount to torture and are a violation of international law.

Amnesty spokesman Tom Parker told VOA the former vice president and other senior Bush administration officials crafted policies that institutionalized torture and arbitrary detention.

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