In his new book, former Vice President Dick Cheney said he has "no regrets" about waterboarding detainees to get answers in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.
Cheney and others in the Bush administration have been criticized for supporting the use of the harsh interrogation technique that involves repeatedly pouring water over a detainee's face to create the sensation of drowning.
During an interview with NBC about the memoir, Cheney said, "I would strongly support using it again if circumstances arose where we had a high-value detainee and that was the only way we could get him to talk."
Recalling President Bush's failed nomination of Harriet Miers to fill the Supreme Court seat held by retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Cheney writes:
In late September 2005, the president pulled me aside in the Oval Office to tell me about his decision on the second nominee. "You probably aren't going to agree with this, Dick," he said, "but I've decided to go with Harriet." "Well, Mr. President," I said, "that's going to be a tough sell." But it was his decision to make, and I set about trying to sell it.
Cheney didn't succeed. Less than a month after announcing her nomination to the court, Bush withdrew Miers' name, as opposition to her mounted from all sides. Democrats viewed Miers as a rubber stamp for the president, a close friend for many years, while Republicans doubted her conservative credentials and worried about her lack of judicial experience.
Cheney writes that he has "a good deal of admiration and respect for Miers" but that "she had not been on the list of candidates our group produced for the Supreme Court position."
Days after withdrawing Miers from consideration, Bush nominated Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court seat.
Henry Kissinger's advice to Cheney during the surge debate: "Withdrawals are like salted peanuts... Once you start, you can't stop."
Cheney reveals in his book that he had a secret letter of resignation that he signed in March 2001, shortly after assuming office, locked in a safe at all times.
Only two other people knew of the letter: President George W. Bush and a member of Cheney's staff.
In an interview about his book with "Dateline NBC," Cheney said he took his own health situation into account when writing the letter, considering the "possibility that I might have a heart attack or a stroke that would be incapacitating" and that "there is no mechanism for getting rid of a vice-president who can't function."
Cheney has had a long history of heart ailments -- including four heart attacks before the year 2000 -- and had a special pacemaker inserted into his chest as a precaution just months after he took office in 2001.
In 2010, he underwent an extensive heart procedure to install a device that helps pump blood through his heart.
Cheney reveals in the book that he offered to resign from his position as Vice President three times.
"If President Bush felt he had a better chance to win with someone else as his running mate, I wanted to make sure he felt free to make the change," Cheney writes.
The Los Angeles Times reports:
He also offered to resign three times. Bush dismissed the first two immediately, Cheney said. But the third time Cheney offered, Bush took some time to think it over.
"I really pushed hard and said, Mr. President, you really need to sit down and think about this," Cheney said. "And that time, he did. And then he came back and he said, 'No, I'll leave it the way it is, Dick.'"
Cheney writes that he was "a lone voice" for military action against Syria, and says that President George W. Bush rejected his advice to bomb a suspected nuclear reactor site there in 2007.
According to Cheney, Bush's other advisers were reluctant to get involved with Syria because of "bad intelligence we had received about Iraq's stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction" before the 2003 invasion of that country. Bush decided it would be best to use diplomatic pressure to force the Syrians to abandon the nuclear program.
Israel bombed the site in September 2007, destroying a bomb factory assembling nuclear warheads fueled by North Korean plutonium.
Cheney writes about several of the famous "undisclosed locations" from which he often worked during his vice presidency, including Camp David and his homes in Wyoming and northwest Washington, D.C.
In his memoir, Cheney writes:
In fact, my undisclosed location was sometimes the Vice President's Residence -- we just didn't tell anyone I was there. At other times, it was a city other than Washington where I had an event scheduled. Sometimes the staff and I would work from my home in Wyoming for extended periods.
On the action he took after the September 11 attacks, Cheney writes that he and his wife Lynne were taken to Camp David, separated from President Bush for safety reasons. A few days after his arrival, he participated in national security meetings there with Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Cheney's book also reveals that he participated in other meetings throughout his years as vice president via video-conference from a bunker under his home.
Cheney discusses multiple internal battles within the Bush administration in his memoir, criticizing several former colleagues including Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell.
Cheney accuses former Secretary of State Rice of being naive for trying to negotiate a nuclear weapons agreement with North Korea.
The "concessions delivered" to North Korea "in the naive hope that despots would respond in kind" were wrong, wrote Cheney, as was the advice given by Rice's State Department on the issue, which the vice president wrote was "utterly misleading."
Rice was also off base for clashing with White House advisers over the tone of the president's speeches on Iraq, Cheney wrote.
Cheney's writing also implied that he influenced Powell's decision to leave the White House in 2004, but Powell has disputed the claim, saying his resignation was planned well in advance.
UPDATE: Rice said Wednesday she resented the remarks Cheney made about her in his memoir, saying she felt they represented an "attack on my integrity."
In an interview with NBC News about his memoir, Cheney discussed advice he gave to incoming White House Chief-of-Staff Rahm Emanuel in 2009.
According to the New York Post, Cheney tells NBC News that that he told Emanuel during a roundtable meeting ushering in the new administration to "keep the vice president under control."
Cheney's health issues made headlines even after he left office, with much hype surrounding his 2010 heart surgery. In the epilogue of his book, he reveals more details about his recovery, describing a dream he had while unconscious post-operation.
The New York Times reports:
And in the epilogue, Mr. Cheney writes that after undergoing heart surgery in 2010, he was unconscious for weeks. During that period, he wrote, he had a prolonged, vivid dream that he was living in an Italian villa, pacing the stone paths to get coffee and newspapers.
Cheney writes that his hesitations about President Richard Nixon's reelection campaign stopped him from joining in the effort.
After working as a White House aide during Nixon's first term, Cheney briefly considered joining the Committee to Re-Elect the President. He ultimately decided to keep working for Donald Rumsfeld, who was acting as his mentor at the time.
"I sometimes think about how different things would have been if I hadn't gone with [Rumsfeld] to the Cost of Living Council," writes Cheney.
He recalls watching Nixon lose his hold on the presidency thanks to the Watergate scandal. Cheney writes that he and his wife Lynne would rush to get their copy of the Washington Post every morning -- often taking a copy from the delivery truck for themselves before the paper boy could drop it at their doorstep -- so they could be updated on the latest in the unraveling of the administration.
In the book, Cheney also discusses his time as a White House aide in the administration of President Gerald Ford, who took office shortly after Richard Nixon resigned to avoid impeachment over the Watergate scandal.
Cheney recalls his reaction to President Ford's "full, free, and absolute pardon" of Nixon, an unpopular move even among Republicans at the time.
According to the New York Times, Cheney writes about being surprised and disappointed by the pardon, but notes that his opinion changed with time:
He continued to believe that the announcement was mishandled, exaggerating the negative impact. But "while I was unfortunately accurate in my assessment of the negative political impact, I was wrong about the wisdom of the pardon itself. It was clearly the right decision, and over the next few years in the White House, l was thankful that Watergate was behind us rather than hanging over our heads with a former president facing trial."
One passage in Cheney's memoir addresses a declaration he made in 2002, when he said, "Reagan proved deficits don't matter."
Cheney was criticized for the statement for years. He defended himself in the book, noting that he only meant it was important to see deficits "in context."
Cheney recalls his own efforts to secure votes for the second major round of tax cuts under the Bush administration in his memoir, and says that getting those votes wasn't an easy task.
While all Republicans favored a tax cut, there were few who didn't want to go with the $550 billion the president was proposing. They were worried about the deficit, a concern I generally appreciated. I have been quoted as saying around this time that "deficits don't matter" and citing Ronald Reagan to bolster the case, but of course I thought deficits mattered.
Among others, Cheney targets 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain in his memoir, highlighting the clash between the Arizona senator and the outgoing Bush administration.
Cheney says that McCain's choice to suspend his campaign efforts to focus on the struggling U.S. economy in September 2008 "was a move that frankly surprised many of us in the White House" and a risk because "there really wasn't much John could actually do."
He goes on to describe tense White House meetings where McCain and Barack Obama were both present -- meetings that left McCain looking inferior to the Democratic presidential candidate.
Senator McCain added nothing of substance. It was entirely unclear why he'd returned to Washington and why he'd wanted the congressional leadership called together. I left the Cabinet Room when the meeting was over thinking the Republican presidential ticket was in trouble.
While addressing the Bush administration's internal crisis over domestic surveillance by the National Security Agency in his memoir, Cheney adds to a story told by former President George W. Bush in his own memoir.
The story details Bush's renewal of the Terrorist Surveillance Program, a move that defied explicit objections from the Justice Department and a gravely ill Attorney General John Ashcroft.
While the story itself was already complex, Cheney recalls previously untold information in his memoir, much of which is almost impossible to verify.
Cheney's version of this story adds a stunning twist: Ashcroft told Bush on the phone, before Gonzales and Card arrived, "that he would sign the documents" to certify the surveillance as lawful. But the two men found Comey there when they arrived, Cheney writes, and "it became immediately clear that Ashcroft had changed his mind." Only then, Cheney suggests, did the White House aides learn that Ashcroft "had delegated all the responsibilities of his office to the Deputy Attorney General."
The former vice president's account is meant to rebut the consensus view at Justice and the FBI that Bush tried to circumvent Comey's lawful authority and take advantage of a sick man. But it is very difficult to see how Cheney's claims on either point could be true.
Recalling the first few hours after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Cheney writes that "we were living in the fog of war." He goes into detail describing his experience that morning and reveals that he had ordered the military to shoot down planes that were thought to be hijacked.
At about 10:15, a uniformed military aide came into the room to tell me that a plane, believed hijacked, was eighty miles out and headed for D.C. He asked me whether our combat air patrol had authority to engage the aircraft. Did our fighter pilots have authority, in other words, to shoot down an American commercial airliner believed to have been hijacked? "Yes," I said without hesitation. A moment later he was back. "Mr. Vice President, it's sixty miles out. Do they have authorization to engage?" Again, yes.
Having notified President Bush of the shootdown order, confusion ensued when the leaders learned of a downed plane in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
"Had it been forced down? Had it been shot down by one of our pilots following the authorization I'd conveyed?" Cheney writes. "Eventually we learned that an act of heroism had brought United Airlines Flight 93 down in the fields near Shanksville."
Cheney reveals the Bush campaign was less than pleased with the chant he chose to rouse supporters at the 2000 GOP convention: "It's time for them to go."
"I think they were hoping for a kinder, gentler Dick Cheney, and I listened to what they had to say, and then I ignored their advice," Cheney writes.
According to the memoir, it wasn't the only time Cheney clashed with his running mate's campaign. He later decided against giving a speech on school bonds that Bush's campaign had given him, saying he would only do what the campaign staff wanted if he "felt right about it."
He also rejected a speech from campaign directives on abstinence education.
"This wasn't a subject I'd pronounced on before, and I couldn't see a compelling reason to begin now," Cheney writes.
Cheney writes that the day he accidentally shot fellow hunter Harry Whittington was "one of the saddest of my life."
The incident occurred in February 2006, when Cheney was still vice president. Whittington -- who donated to both to Bush's 2000 campaign and his 2004 reelection bid -- was hit by several pellets of birdshot while he and Cheney hunted for quails on a friend's South Texas ranch.
"I, of course, was deeply sorry for what Harry and his family had gone through," Cheney writes.
Cheney writes about Osama bin Laden's stay in Abbottabad and suggests that his presence meant al Qaeda had some support there. He also notes that several spots in former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's government were occupied by al Qaeda sympathizers.
The Hindustan Times reports:
Cheney, who was the deputy to George W Bush from 2001 to 2009, says in the period after 9/11 the US-Pak ties were bedevilled by a lot of problems before things started changing in by around 2004.
"Pakistan was on the edge. There were major problems in US-Pakistani relations. President Pervez Musharraf's hold on power was tenuous and he had al Qaeda sympathisers in key slots in his government," Cheney writes in his memoirs released today.
Cheney addresses President Bush's famous 16 words: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
Cheney writes that there was "no need to apologize" for the president's claim, which turned out to be false.
Cheney strongly opposed an apology for the 16 words about Saddam Hussein and uranium in the 2003 State of the Union address, arguing it would only fan the flames: "[A]nd why apologize when the British had, in fact, reported that Iraq had sought a significant amount of uranium in Africa? THE SIXTEEN WORDS WERE TRUE."
Cheney writes that he opposed President Bush's choice to give General Motors a $13.4 billion bailout in order to rescue the company from collapse.
"I had continued throughout my career to be philosophically opposed to bailing out specific companies or industries," he wrote.
He notes that "the president decided that he did not want to pull the plug on General Motors as we were headed out the door," and adds that unlike Cheney, Bush was willing to prepare a short-term package to keep GM afloat until the next administration could intervene. Cheney writes that he was not surprised when the Obama drastically increased government intervention in the automobile industry.
After his first heart attack in 1978, Cheney -- who was running for Congress in Wyoming at the time -- helped cut a campaign ad with people discussing how other political figures had served in office post-heart attack.
Cheney writes that he ultimately decided running the ad would be bad for his campaign efforts.
"But my instinct was that the finished product would make people uncomfortable, and we never put it on the air."
Though he chose not to play up his heart troubles as a congressional hopeful, Cheney appeared to be much more open about his health issues during an NBC interview that aired August 29.
When interviewer Jamie Gangel asked Cheney if he could explain how his heart pump works, Cheney was happy to discuss his condition.
"Sure, it's got a pump inside that's tied into my heart," he said. "It's powered by batteries. They're good for about ten hours. When you take them out it beeps."
Cheney then disconnected the battery from the device to demonstrate the beeping sound.
Cheney recalls memories of his relationship with the late former Rep. John Murtha, his "strongest ally in Congress" while Cheney was defense secretary under President George H. W. Bush.
Murtha -- a Pennsylvaia Democrat and the chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee -- would meet for breakfast with Cheney at the start of each legislative session.
"We would discuss which items were high priority for each of us and put together a back-of-the-envelope outline of a bill," Cheney writes. "At the end of each session, the bill enacted was very close to what we had agreed to back in January at the beginning of the process."