CINCINNATI – Vice President Dick Cheney defended the way Afghan was detainees are treated at a U.S. base in Cuba, saying at a GOP fund-raiser Friday that they are probably getting "better than they deserve."
Some U.S. allies have expressed concerns over prisoners' treatment while they're held for interrogation at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.
Cheney said the detainees are "really bad people" who don't qualify as prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention. He assured an audience of about 2,000 supporters that prisoners are receiving good food and medical care.
"Nobody should feel defensive or unhappy about the quality of treatment they've received," Cheney said. "It's probably better than they deserve."
Cheney hasn't made many public appearances since Sept. 11, often staying at undisclosed locations for security. He visited Cincinnati to raise money for one of the Bush family's closest allies in Congress.
Rep. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, worked on the elder Bush's presidential campaign and currently is a congressional liaison with the White House.
The fund-raiser was held at a performing arts center downtown. Tickets cost $200, and donors could attend a private reception with Cheney for $1,000. Organizers expected to raise between $300,000 and $400,000.
During brief prepared remarks, Cheney said the war on terrorism remains the administration's top priority. President Bush has proposed $48 billion in additional defense spending — the largest increase in 20 years — and billions more to improve security in the United States.
"This war has proceeded well," Cheney said. "It has been expensive and will continue to be. Defense is no place to cut corners, especially at times like these."