Vice President Cheney is under scrutiny for the following exchange with North Dakota radio host Scott Henen:
HENEN: And I’ve had people call and say, please, let the Vice President know that if it takes dunking a terrorist in water, we’re all for it, if it saves American lives…Would you agree a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It’s a no-brainer for me, but for a while there, I was criticized as being the Vice President “for torture.” We don’t torture. That’s not what we’re involved in.
Cheney’s comments were widely understood as an endorsement of a practice called “waterboarding” — a technique where prisoner “who is bound and gagged has water poured over him to make him think he is about to drown.” (In 1947, the U.S. tried and convicted a Japanese officer with war crimes for waterboarding a U.S. civilian.)
Today, Press Secretary Tony Snow insisted that Cheney’s comments did not endorse waterboarding. Snow said that Cheney does not comment on specific interrogation techniques and is “not a guy who slips up.” ABC’s Ann Compton countered that Cheney “did go up and curse a senator to his face on the Senate floor and accidentally shot his friend.” Watch it:
SNOW: I’m telling you what the Vice President — I talked to Leeann about it. She says, No, he wasn’t referring to waterboarding; he was referring to using a program of questioning, not talking about waterboarding.
Let me put it this way: You’ve got Dick Cheney, who has been head of an intelligence committee. He’s been the secretary of defense. He’s been the vice president. This is not a guy who slips up. And he’s also not a guy who does winks and nods about things that involve matters that you don’t talk about for political reasons. Sorry.
COMPTON: Saying that Vice President Cheney doesn’t make mistakes like this, he did go up and curse a senator to his face on the Senate floor and accidentally shot his friend. So he’s not perfect.