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Cheney Says Harsh Interrogation Was 'The Right Thing to Do'

Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney has defended the Bush administration's use of harsh interrogation methods, saying they were necessary to get information from terrorists and save American lives.

In a speech Thursday at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, Cheney said President Barack Obama and other officials have largely "mischaracterized" the previous administration's approval of such techniques. He said they were "essential," "justified," "successful," and the "right thing to do."

President Obama has said the Bush-approved simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding is torture.

Cheney challenged some of President Obama's policies. He called Mr. Obama intention to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a decision with "little deliberation and no plan."

He also criticized the Obama administration's decision to release memos with information on Bush administration's interrogation techniques for terror suspects. Cheney said the "enemy" now knows exactly what interrogation methods to train against.

Cheney said the interrogation techniques used on high value suspects were lawful. He dismissed lawmakers' current debate over the methods as "contrived indignation and phony moralizing."

He said Mr. Obama's policy to ban enhanced techniques is "recklessness cloaked in righteousness."

Cheney added that when terrorists see the U.S. government caught up in these kinds of discussions, they see U.S. resolve shaken, leaders distracted and an opportunity for future attacks.

The former vice president played a major role in crafting U.S. anti-terrorist policies under George W. Bush and says interrogation methods were always given legal review before approved and that torture was never permitted.

Cheney has said he has made a request to declassify two CIA memos that he says outlines, in detail, the successes that came from using harsh techniques during interrogation of terror suspects.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.