CIA interrogators heroes not torturers: former US vice president Dick Cheney

Former US Vice President Dick Cheney yesterday defended America's now-banned programme that tortured Al-Qaeda suspects, praising the CIA operatives who ran it as heroes.-- PHOTO: AFP 
Former US Vice President Dick Cheney yesterday defended America's now-banned programme that tortured Al-Qaeda suspects, praising the CIA operatives who ran it as heroes.-- PHOTO: AFP 

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Former US vice president Dick Cheney on Sunday defended America's now-banned program that tortured Al-Qaeda suspects, praising the CIA operatives who ran it as heroes.

"I'm perfectly comfortable that they should be praised, they should be decorated," former president George W. Bush's right-hand man told NBC television's Meet the Press programme, adding, "I'd do it again in a minute."

He made his remarks after the release by Senate Democrats last week of a long-awaited investigation into detention and interrogation practices at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

In excruciating detail, the report described crude torture methods including waterboarding, hanging people for hours from their wrists and locking them in tiny coffin-shaped boxes.

The report questioned the effectiveness of such techniques, which it determined were actually counterproductive for getting actionable intelligence.

Cheney strongly disagreed.

"It worked. It absolutely worked," he said on Sunday about the programme which US officials euphemistically have referred to as employing "enhanced interrogation techniques".

The remarks echo comments made last week by the former vice president defending the interrogation program and blasting the 500-page Senate report as "terrible" and "full of crap".

The report released Tuesday said the CIA's interrogation of Al-Qaeda suspects - including beatings, "rectal rehydration" and sleep deprivation - was far more brutal than acknowledged and did not produce useful intelligence.

It also concluded that the CIA deliberately misled Congress and the White House about the value of the intelligence its interrogators were gathering.