Vice President Dick Cheney Talks with Tony Snow

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," May 11, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

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TONY SNOW, GUEST HOST:  In the "impact" segment tonight, Vice President Dick CHENEY received a clean bill of health today after a routine cardiovascular checkup at the George Washington University  Medical Center.  He resumed his regular duties by taking a half-hour out of  his busy schedule to join me on my radio show, "The Tony Snow Show."  We talked about the prison abuse scandal, among other things.


SNOW:  Have you seen all the pictures and videos?

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I'm sure I haven't seen all of them.  I've seen more than have been released to the public.  I was over at the Pentagon yesterday and   saw some of them there.

SNOW:  But your personal reaction was what?  I mean, I want to get a sense of when you saw -- were you stunned?  Were you appalled?  Or was this something you were ready for seeing?

CHENEY:  All of the above.  That was very strong stuff.  And I'll just leave it at that, but...

SNOW:  Well, I'm trying to get a little context here, because people are trying to figure out how big a problem this may be.  Again, there is call for better intelligence out of people who were held captive in Iraq and in Doha, Qatar and other places.  Do you fear that the kind of behavior we saw at Abu Ghraib was in fact not unusual but occurred elsewhere?

CHENEY:  I just don't know, Tony.

SNOW:  Is there any evidence that anybody has brought to your attention or to the attention...

CHENEY:  I haven't seen anything that goes beyond Abu Ghraib.  But I just -- I don't want to -- I can't say I know everything.  I don't.


CHENEY:  There may not be anything else out there or there may be more.  And the way to find out is to continue the process that was started back in January when this was first reported and is now under way by the military and the Department of Defense.  You're always surprised when somebody brings forward something that shows folks doing something improper, inappropriate, illegal.  I'm not -- that happens from time to time.  But I do think this has been handled in a responsible fashion.

SNOW:  The International Red Cross is saying that since only about 700 people have actually been charged by the United States and there are some 9000 in detention, that 90 percent or more are wrongfully detained, either innocent or wrongfully detained.  Is the Red Cross wrong?

CHENEY:  Yes, I can't say that.  You have got to remember what's happened over there.  Our forces moved in and have been involved in ongoing conflict with people setting remote controlled explosive devices and a lot of our troops have been injured or killed.  And I believe that they do, in fact, have reasons for most of the people that have been detained.

Thousands have been released.  They don't want to keep anybody just for the sake of keeping them.  But on the other hand, it's very important in terms of gaining control of the situation, keeping people off the streets that are otherwise trying to harm Americans or Iraqis who are helping us that you have got to have the facilities that we're used over there for these purposes.

SNOW:  You've mentioned ongoing hostilities, the latest Gallup poll indicating 56 percent of the American public now thinks the invasion of Iraq was a mistake.  What do you tell them, those doubting Americans to assure them that this was the right thing to do?

CHENEY:  Well, I tell them basically to remember why we went there and all that we've accomplished.  We, in fact, had, I think, very good reasons for going into Iraq.  Afghanistan first.  All of this in the aftermath of 9/11, our concern over terrorism and the possibility of terrorists acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

Iraq, Saddam Hussein was a long-time haven for terrorists and had produced and used weapons of mass destruction in the past, constituted a threat.  And we acted against it.

SNOW: Mr. Vice President, Teresa Heinz Kerry the other day took a shot at you.  I want to play a clip and I want your reaction.


TERESA HEINZ KERRY, WIFE OF JOHN KERRY:  To have a couple of people who escaped four, five, six times and deferred and deferred and deferred, calling him anything or doubting his heroism is in and of itself unpatriotic.  Unpatriotic, I refer to the vice president..


SNOW:  She called you unpatriotic.


CHENEY:  I noticed.  The fact is, Tony, that neither the president nor I nor anybody associated with our campaign has ever said that John Kerry was unpatriotic.  We've never done anything but praise his military service.  It deserves to be praised.  He served honorably in Vietnam.  And we have never said anything but very positive things about it.

The problem they are having is that every time I question his voting record, his 20 years in the Senate where he did, in fact, cast thousands of votes over a 20-year period of time, that's what they don't like.  And I'm not challenging his patriotism.  I'm challenging his judgment.  And that's perfectly fair game.


SNOW:  And the vice president also, by the way, got a clean bill of health today.

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