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On EIT, Cheney Tangled with McCain: ‘John Didn’t Want to Hear What We Had to Say’


Speaking of Cheney-McCain squabbles, when the Bush administration was clashing with congressional leaders over enhanced-interrogation techniques in 2005, Vice President Cheney huddled with the Arizona Republican at the Capitol, attempting to win him over. But “John didn’t want to hear what we had to say,” Cheney writes in his new memoir, In My Time. “We had hardly started when he lost his temper and stormed out of the meeting.”

Here’s the passage:

Despite the invaluable intelligence we were obtaining through the program of enhanced interrogation, in 2005 there was a move on Capitol Hill, led by Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham, to end it and require that all U.S. Government interrogations be conducted under the rules of the U.S. Army Field Manual. As one of the CIA interrogators explained to me, the Field Manual is adequate for interrogating run-of-the-mill enemy soldiers. “If one guy doesn’t want to talk to you, you can say, fine and move onto the next, until you get to one who will talk.” But a detainee such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is different. He wasn’t talking, but there was no one comparable to move on to. For the safety of the nation we needed him to talk, and that happened after we put him through the enhanced interrogation program.

In an effort to reach an agreement with Senator McCain and explain to him how damaging his proposed amendment would be, CIA Director Porter Goss and I met with him in a secure conference room at the Capitol and tried to brief him about the program and the critical intelligence we had gained. But John didn’t want to hear what we had to say. We had hardly started when he lost his temper and stormed out of the meeting. His opinion carried a good deal of weight because he had been a prisoner of war, but his view of the program was certainly not unanimous among his fellow former POW’s.