Cheney 'Defended' Interrogations in Briefings

Former Vice President Dick Cheney did speak to members of Congress about the Bush administration's interrogation program in an effort to maintain support for the enhanced techniques used on detainees, Cheney's office confirmed Wednesday.

"Vice President Cheney was and remains a strong supporter of our enhanced interrogation program. The program gained valuable intelligence and saved lives. Given his broad involvement in national security issues, it would have been surprising if he hadn't discussed this program with members of Congress," reads a statement provided to FOX News by Cheney's office.

According to a Washington Post report out Tuesday, Cheney oversaw at least four briefings with members of Congress.

The briefings, part of a "secret" defense of the program Cheney mounted in 2005, took place as congressional oversight committees were threatening to investigate or end the use of the interrogation methods, lawmakers and officials told the newspaper.

The former vice president is known to have advocated the use of waterboarding and warrantless wiretapping on terror suspects, but his role in advocating the program to lawmakers had been unknown until this time.

One official who was present during the briefings said Cheney's appearance seemed "calculated" to lend weight to the CIA's case that the techniques be maintained, and that the vice president mounted a passionate defense of the program.

"This is a really important issue for the security of the United States," the unnamed official recounted Cheney as saying, according to the Post.

Documents delivered to Capitol Hill last month by the CIA listed every lawmaker briefed on the enhanced interrogation techniques, but did not mention Cheney's role in the meetings. For the briefings led by Cheney, intelligence committees were told that information pertaining to the person who oversaw the briefings was "not available," the newspaper reported.

Last week, the former vice president ratcheted up his attacks on the Obama administration, saying the anti-terror policies of the Bush administration kept America safe and that President Obama's apparent pride in seeking a middle ground is compromising America's safety.

Cheney also defended the enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, that were used on captured terrorists, saying those techniques saved possibly hundreds of thousands of American lives.

"They were legal, essential, justified, successful, and the right thing to do. The intelligence officers who questioned the terrorists can be proud of their work and proud of the results, because they prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people," Cheney said during a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.

The former vice president said that despite severe and ongoing criticism of the Bush administration's policies by both media and Democrats, "ruthless enemies" were stopped in their tracks, and he accused the new administration of weakening the country's ability to combat terrorists.

"In the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half exposed," Cheney said. "You cannot keep just some nuclear-armed terrorists out of the United States. You must keep every nuclear-armed terrorist out of the United States."

"There is never a good time to compromise when the lives and safety of the American people are in the balance," he added.

Read the full report at The Washington Post