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Cheney defends harsh interrogation methods

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney Thursday defended the use of harsh interrogation techniques, saying the methods "saved thousands of lives."

Procedures the CIA used to interrogate "high-value targets" were part of a "tougher program," Cheney told the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.

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Cheney did not mention waterboarding, a technique simulating torture and under the microscope of several congressional committees. CIA Director Michael Hayden has acknowledged Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, was one of the three suspects who experienced the harsh technique several years ago.

Hayden told a congressional committee waterboarding may be illegal under current law. Several Bush administration officials said the technique is not among those currently authorized for use in the CIA program.

"The procedures of the CIA program are designed to be safe, and they are in full compliance with the nation's laws and treaty obligations. And the program has uncovered a wealth of information that has foiled attacks against the United States (and) ... saved thousands of lives," Cheney said.

Finally, he said, "The United States is a country that takes human rights seriously. We do not torture -- it's against our laws and against our values."

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