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Video: Cheney: I ‘would strongly support’ waterboarding terror suspects

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    >>> with an exclusive interview with dick cheney . the former vice president releases his new memoir "in my time" this week. it's an unapologetic account of his time in the white house and already making waves . "today" national correspondent sat down with mr. cheney in wyoming. jamie, good morning to you.

    >> good morning, matt. known to be discrete, a man with few words, the book is filled with revelation, criticism, and a glimpse behind the curtain of private conversations and critical moments with the president who picked hip, george w. bush . you may remember that dick chen cheney 's se vet service name was angler and it's as fitting as ever. at 70 years old dick cheney may spend his free time fishing, and after major heart surgery , look a little frail, but don't be fooled. this book is going to make a lot of people angry.

    >> there are going to be heads exploding all over washington, jamie were conservative hero the his fans, darth vader to his critics, cheney 's book is an unapologetic defense to his vice presidency and the controversial program he's championed after 9/11. in your view, we should still be using enhanced interrogation?

    >> yes.

    >> should we still be waterboarding terror suspects?

    >> i would strongly support using it again if we had a high-value detainee, that was the only way we could get him to talk.

    >> people call it torture. you think it should still be a tool?

    >> yes.

    >> rendition.

    >> yes.

    >> secret prisons.

    >> yes.

    >> wiretapping.

    >> well, with the right approval.

    >> you say it is one of the things you are proudest of and you would do it again in a heartbeat.

    >> it was con tro verse shul at the time. it was the right thing to do.

    >> no apologies?

    >> no apologies.

    >> reporter: and now cheney insists he's not settling scores the book takes on everyone from former cia director george tenet to former secretary of state colin powell to this withering portrayal of condoleezza rice .

    >> you said she came in and saturday next to my desk and tearfully admitted i had been right. was she crying?

    >> she was tearful. that's what i wanted to write. if i wanted to say she was chiropractoring, i would have said she was crying.

    >> you know tearfully was a loaded description for powerful women in high office. it's going to be seen by a lot of people as provocative. could you have left that word out?

    >> it is an accurate description of what happened and what i saw.

    >> reporter: for the record, cheney praises president bush as bold and decisive. who is in charge in the white house ?

    >> the president, no question, always.

    >> was he sensitive about the fact that people thought you were running things?

    >> not as sensitive as i would have expected. i think some of the staff occasionally were aggravated by a story that said cheney is pulling the strings behind the scenes . but it was never true. i mean, george bush was the president.

    >> reporter: but cheney also goes public with revelations about his old boss. including private conversations which show just how much the decider-in-chief depended on the adviser-in-chief. listen to the difference in how the two men describe the eve of the iraq war . president bush writes, i turned to the team gathered in the oval office and said, let's go. you write, the president kicked everyone else out of the oval office , looked at me and said, dick, what do you think we ought to do?

    >> that's the way i recall it. i was giving advice. i wasn't making the decision. he was making the decision.

    >> reporter: do you think she's revelations will embarrass president bush ?

    >> i don't know why.

    >> well, he's saying, let's go, i'm the leader.

    >> well, he was.

    >> but you're revealing that it didn't happen that way. he cleared out the office. he said, dick, what do you think we should do?

    >> right.

    >> the very different picture.

    >> right. but then he made the decision. it wasn't my decision.

    >> don't you think it will embarrass him that you point out the difference?

    >> i -- i didn't set out to embarrass the president or not embarrass the president.

    >> reporter: that said, the memoir also portrays a side of dick cheney that most people have never seen. at the end of the book cheney writes philosophically about his five heart attacks and mortality. last summer he went into end stage heart failure and doctors implanted a heart pump. could you just show me how it works?

    >> sure. it's got a pump inside that's tied into my heart. it's powered by batteries. they're good for about ten hours. and when you take them out it beeps.

    >> please put it back in. [ beep beep beep ]

    >> former secretary of state condoleezza rice and george tenet said the time to comment about the book, however, former secretary of state colin powell is now speaking out saying he always gave the president his best advice and he called former vice president cheney 's criticism, quote, cheap shots. matt, tonight on "dateline" we're going to have much more including a visit to one of those undisclosed locatications dick cheney spent so much time in after 9/11.

    >> thank you.

    >> and by the way, dick cheney will be right here in our studio for an exclusive live interview tomorrow morning here on "today."

TODAY contributor
updated 8/24/2011 7:08:34 PM ET 2011-08-24T23:08:34

When former Vice President Dick Cheney releases his memoir Tuesday, it may cause the second earthquake in Washington, D.C., this month.

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“There are gonna be heads exploding all over Washington,’’ Cheney told NBC’s Jamie Gangel in an exclusive interview that will air on “Dateline” at 10 p.m. ET Monday, Aug. 29.

In the book, titled “In My Time,’’ Cheney addresses a broad range of topics, including the attacks of Sept. 11; a secret resignation letter he kept in a safe in case he experienced catastrophic health issues, and his thoughts about former President George W. Bush and ex-Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell. The 46th vice president discusses those topics and more in his candid interview with Gangel, and he’ll likely have more to say when he appears live on TODAY with Matt Lauer on Aug. 30, the day his book hits stores.

Matt Lauer will interview former VP Cheney

One of the revelations in the book is the secret resignation letter that only one of Cheney’s staffers knew about. Signed in March 2001, the letter was locked in a safe at all times.

“I did it because I was concerned that — for a couple of reasons,’’ he told Gangel. “One was my own health situation. The possibility that I might have a heart attack or a stroke that would be incapacitating. And there is no mechanism for getting rid of a vice president who can’t function.’’

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Cheney also expressed no regrets regarding the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding.

Slideshow: The private and public lives of Dick Cheney (on this page)

“I would strongly support using it again if we had a high value detainee and that was the only way we could get him to talk,’’ he told Gangel.

Cheney was unapologetic about portraying Condoleezza Rice as "tearful" when she admitted to him that he "had been right" after a disagreement. And he insisted that George Bush was in charge of the White House, despite chatter that the Vice President was pulling strings behind the scenes. Bush, he said, was "not as sensitive as I would have expected" about the rumors.

Story: Powell says Cheney taking 'cheap shots' in book

"I think some of the staff occasionally were aggravated by a story that said, 'Cheney's, you know, pullin' the strings behind the scenes.' But it was never true," he said. "I mean George Bush was the president."

Cheney also addressed whether Bush will feel hurt or betrayed by the contents of the book, which details private conversations between the two on such topics as whether to attack a target believed to be Iraq president Saddam Hussein.

Story: Cheney says he urged Bush to bomb suspected Syria nuke site

“I didn't set out to embarrass the president or not embarrass the president,’’ Cheney told Gangel. “If you look at the book, there are many places in it where I say some very fine things about George Bush. And believe every word of it.’’

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Photos: The private and public lives of Dick Cheney

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  1. Dick Cheney is seen in this 1964 photo, during his junior year photo at the University of Wyoming. He had previously attended Yale University, but returned home due to failing grades. (University of Wyoming via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. This White House file photograph shows President Gerald Ford as he meets with Chief of Staff Donald Rumsfeld, center and Dick Cheney, a staff assistant, in the Oval Office, April 22, 1975. (David Hume Kennerly / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Dick Cheney in the White House on Nov. 4, 1975. When Donald Rumsfeld became secretary of defense, Cheney was named chief of staff. At 34, he was the youngest chief of staff in White House history. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. President Gerald R. Ford and Chief Of Staff Dick Cheney look over documents in the living room of the Aspen Lodge during a weekend trip to Camp David, on August 7, 1976 in Thurmont, Md. (David Hume Kennerly / The White House via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Congressman Dick Cheney and wife Lynne pose for a photo with their two children Liz, left, and Mary, right, at their home in Casper, Wy., in 1978. Also seen is their basset hound "Cyrano." (David Hume Kennerly / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. President Ronald Reagan is flanked by House Minority Leader Bob Michel of Illinois, left, and Rep. Dick Cheney of Wyoming during a meeting with House Republicans in the White House Cabinet Room, Monday, March 21, 1983. (Ed Reinke / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Rep. Richard Cheney, ranking Republican on the House panel investigating the Iran-Contra affair, and Rep. Lee Hamilton, the panel's chaiman, hold a news conference in Washington on June 19,1987. (Scott Applewhite / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Defense Secretary Dick Cheney stands by as General Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, briefs reporters at the Pentagon on Dec. 20,1989 about the operation to remove Panama's General Manuel Antonio Noriega from power. (Bob Pearson / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney shakes hands with a tank crew from the 82nd Airborne Division, during his visit to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on Sunday, Aug. 19, 1990. The "SECDEF," as he is known by military acronym, caught the soldiers off-guard with his impromptu visit. (Scott Applewhite / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney and then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin Powell give a press conference in Washington about the military situation in Somalia. (Robert Giroux / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Dick Cheney, CEO of the Halliburton Company, talks former President Gerald Ford during a party for their mutual friend, Richard Growald in San Diego in 1994. Cheney served as Ford's chief of staff and eventually ran his 1976 presidential campaign. (David Hume Kennerly / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Governor Geoge W. Bush announces that Dick Cheney will be his running mate in Austin, Texas, on July 25, 2000. Cheney, who was serving as Halliburton CEO, headed Bush's vice presidential search committee. (Paul Buck / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Republican vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney, center, leaves George Washington University Hospital in Washington, Friday, Nov. 24, 2000, accompanied by unidentified secret service agents. Cheney, who has a history of coronary artery disease, left the hospital two days after he checked himself in with chest pains. He has had five heart attacks since 1978. (Kamenko Pajic / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Dick Cheney, with his daughter Liz holding the Bible, is sworn in as vice president of the United States by Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist Jan. 20, 2001 outside the U.S. Capitol building in Washington. (Mark Wilson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Vice President Dick Cheney flyfishing on the Snake River in his home state of Wyoming on Sunday, July 8, 2001. (David Bohrer / The White House via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. After returning to the White House from Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Neb., President Bush talks with Vice President Dick Cheney in the Presidential Emergency Operations Center on Sept. 11, 2001 in Washington. (Eric Draper / The White House via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. CIA Director George Tenet, Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice meet with President Bush in the White House Oval Office on Oct. 7, 2001, after the president informed the nation that air strikes were made against Afghanistan. (Eric Draper / The White House via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. President George W. Bush delivers his State of the Union speech on Jan. 29, 2002 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Vice President Dick Cheney is seated behind. During this speech, Bush first used the term "axis of evil." (Paul J .Richards / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. President George W. Bush meets with Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld outside the Oval Office shortly after authorizing Operation Iraqi Freedom on March 19, 2003 in Washington. (Eric Draper / The White House via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Vice President Dick Cheney listens to Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards during a debate at Case Western Reserve University on Oct. 5, 2004 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Stephen Jaffe / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Vice President Dick Cheney listens to his daughter and campaign scheduling director, Mary Cheney, and wife, Lynne Cheney, on a flight the day after the vice presidential debate with Democratic challenger John Edwards on Oct. 6, 2004. As a lesbian, Mary Cheney's sexual orientation has often been in spotlight because of her father's conservative views. (David Hume Kennerly / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr, right, chats with Vice President Dick Cheney as they walk down a street in Gulfport, Miss., touring areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2005. (M. Spencer Green / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Left: Harry Whittington talks to reporters outside Christus Spohn Hospital Memorial Friday, Feb. 17, 2006, in Corpus Christi, Texas, in his first public statement since being shot by Vice President Dick Cheney in a hunting accident. Whittington told reporters he was sorry for all the trouble Cheney had faced over the incident. Right: A file photo from Nov. 5, 2002 , provided by the White House, shows Vice President Dick Cheney hunting quail in Gettysburg, S.D. The Whittington accident marked the first time a sitting vice president shot someone since Alexander Hamilton's duel with Aaron Burr in 1804. (Corpus Christi Caller-Times, The White House) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, leaves federal court after a hearing in Washington Friday, Feb. 3, 2006. He was later convicted in connection with the leak of a covert CIA agent's identity and sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. In 2007, President George W. Bush commuted his prison sentence. (Gerald Herbert / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. A U.S. soldier shouts as he tries to control the crowd after a suicide attack at the main U.S. air base of Bagram, north of Kabul, Afghanistan on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2007. A suicide bomber killed at least 14 people and wounded about a dozen more outside the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan during a visit by Vice President Dick Cheney. The Taliban claimed responsibility and said Cheney, who was not injured, was the target. (Musadeq Sadeq / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Vice President Dick Cheney speaks to the press as Afghan President Hamid Karzai listens at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on March 20, 2008. Vice President Dick Cheney visited Afghanistan for talks with President Hamid Karzai to assess the fight against extremism ahead of a summit of NATO partners in the battle. (Paul J. Richards / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Vice President Dick Cheney, suffering from a back injury he sustained while moving into his new home, is wheeled out of the North Portico of the White House in Washington, Jan. 20, 2009 on the way to the inauguration of Barack Obama. Vice President-elect Joe Biden follows at right. (Larry Downing / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Former Vice President Dick Cheney hugs his daughter, Liz Cheney, after she surprised the Conservative Political Action Conference by bringing him as her guest, on Feb. 18, 2010, in Washington. (Cliff Owen / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura listen to former Vice President Dick Cheney at the ground breaking for Bush's Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, on Nov.16, 2010. Southern Methodist University is the future site of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and the George W. Bush Institute that is to be completed in 2013. The appearance was Cheney's first after a summer of recouperating following heart surgery and he looked much thinner than in recent years. (Larry W. Smith / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
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