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Dick Cheney says CIA’s interrogation program was not torture, would ‘do it again’

Former U.S. vice president Dick Cheney remained defiant in his defense of the brutal enhanced interrogation techniques detailed in a report released last week, insisting it was not torture.

“There is this notion that there is somehow a moral equivalence between what the terrorists do and what we do. That is absolutely not true. We were very careful to stop short of torture,” Cheney said on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday. “The Senate has seen fit to label their report torture. But we worked hard to stay short of that definition.”

Cheney’s remarks were part of pushback to a report from the Senate Intelligence Committee released last week that described violent interrogation methods employed on CIA detainees, including waterboarding, sleep deprivation and beatings.

READ MORE: How designing a CIA torture program earned 2 men millions

When asked by interviewer Chuck Todd about the use of waterboarding Cheney vehemently denied that is was a form of torture.

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“Waterboarding the way we did it was in fact not torture,” he said. “When you’re dealing with the likes of Al-Qaida or the likes of ISIS I haven’t seen them waterboard anybody. What they do is cut people’s heads off.”

Waterboarding refers to the interrogation technique where a detainee is strapped to a board or bench, and water is poured over the detainees face to simulate drowning.

During the combative interview Cheney repeatedly said that the interrogation tactics were approved by President George W. Bush.

“This man knew what we were doing,” Cheney said. “He authorized it. He approved of it. The statement by the Senate democrats for partisan purposes that president didn’t know what was going on is a flat out lie.”

READ MORE: 13 enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA

The 525-page Senate report spans the creation and four-year history of the CIA’s coercive interrogations and secret overseas prisons. Since its release the report has been in the media spotlight, drawing international outrage and carefully orchestrated rebuttal from former senior CIA officials.

The former vice president sidestepped questions about a large number of detainees who were wrongfully imprisoned  in the program and said he would “do it again in a minute.”

“I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective … to get the guys who did 9/11, and it is to avoid another attack against the United States,” Cheney said. “We’ve avoided another mass casualty attack against the United States. And we did capture Bin Laden. We did capture an awful lot of the senior guys at al-Qaida who were responsible for that attack on 9/11. I’d do it again in a minute.”

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