NBC: Dick Cheney 'One of the Most Controversial Figures of Our Time,' Did We Mention He's Controversial?

Thursday's NBC Today previewed an upcoming Dateline interview with Dick Cheney about his new memoir and labeled the former Vice President "controversial" three times in less than a minute. Co-host Ann Curry proclaimed him to be "one of the most controversial figures of our time." [Audio available here]

Turning to correspondent Jamie Gangel, who conducted the interview, Curry noted: "I understand that you asked the former Vice President, in a wide-ranging conversation, about one of the biggest controversies of his time in office and that's the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques?"

Gangel described how Cheney's book was "filled with revelations and he does not back down on those controversial programs he championed that made him such a lightning rod for criticism after 9/11."

A clip was played of Gangel grilling Cheney on terrorist interrogations: "Should we still be waterboarding terror suspects?" Cheney replied: "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 them to talk." Gangel fretted: "Even though so many people have condemned it. People call it torture. You think it should still be a tool?"

Talking to Curry, Gangel declared: "Don't expect any apologies, Ann. He knows the book is going to drive his critics crazy. He even said to me, 'Heads are going to be exploding all over Washington.'"

In addition to emphasizing Cheney as a controversial figure, the segment also touted possible divisions between him and former President Bush. Curry asked: "Does he [Cheney] feel that he might have crossed the line, at least in terms of his loyalty relationship with the President [Bush] on this – in what he reveals in this book?" In another clip of the interview, Gangel wondered: "Do you think President Bush will feel betrayed that you've revealed these private conversations?"

Gangel concluded: "The Vice President says he's not settling scores, just defending himself. But there are blistering accounts about some of his colleagues, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice."


Here is a full transcript of the August 25 segment:

7:00AM ET TEASE:

ANN CURRY: NBC News exclusive, former Vice President Dick Cheney speaks out about his new memoir, detailing some of his most private conversations during his years in the White House.

JAMIE GANGEL: Do you think President Bush will feel betrayed that you've revealed these private conversations?

DICK CHENEY: I don't know why he should.

CURRY: This morning he will open up for the first time about his bombshell book.

7:12AM ET SEGMENT:

CURRY: Now to politics and one of the most controversial figures of our time, former Vice President Dick Cheney. He is coming out with a no-holds-barred memoir. And Today national correspondent Jamie Gangel spoke exclusively to the former Vice President. And Jamie, good morning. I understand that you asked the former Vice President, in a wide-ranging conversation, about one of the biggest controversies of his time in office and that's the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques?

JAMIE GANGEL: That's correct, Ann. You know, Dick Cheney has always been known as discrete, a man of few words. His friends said he would never write a book. But now that he has, it is filled with revelations and he does not back down on those controversial programs he championed that made him such a lightning rod for criticism after 9/11. This is what he told us when I asked about whether he had any second thoughts. In your view, we should still be using enhanced interrogation?

DICK CHENEY: Yes.

GANGEL: No regrets?

CHENEY: No regrets.

GANGEL: Should we still be waterboarding terror suspects?

CHENEY: 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 them to talk.

GANGEL: Even though so many people have condemned it. People call it torture. You think it should still be a tool?

CHENEY: Yes.

GANGEL: Don't expect any apologies, Ann. He knows the book is going to drive his critics crazy. He even said to me, 'Heads are going to be exploding all over Washington.'

CURRY: Well, perhaps on that point, in the book, Cheney reportedly says that during 9/11, he basically commanded the government's response while the President, President Bush, of course, played a peripheral role. Did he – does he feel that he might have crossed the line, at least in terms of his loyalty relationship with the President on this – in what he reveals in this book?

GANGEL: You know Ann, he did not discuss this with President Bush ahead of time. And we should say, while there are places in the book where he calls the President 'bold and courageous,' he also reveals private conversations with the President, where Bush turned to him for advice. He points out mistakes he thinks Bush made. And he gives that very different account of the critical moment on 9/11, another critical moment where he disputes accounts that Bush has given. So this is going to be a very, very different book. In Cheney's account, he made the recommendation. This is what he had to say when we asked him what he thinks President Bush will think of his book. Do you think President Bush will feel betrayed that you've revealed these private conversations?

CHENEY: I don't know why he should.

GANGEL: You don't think so?

CHENEY: No.

GANGEL: You have always said that you believe the President deserves to be able to trust the people around him.

CHENEY: Right.

GANGEL: By revealing these differences, you don't think you're betraying that trust?

CHENEY: No.

GANGEL: The President says – the Vice President says he's not settling scores, just defending himself. But there are blistering accounts about some of his colleagues, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice. And on a lighter note, he also reveals in the book just where some of those undisclosed locations were that he kept being taken to. In fact, we did the interview in one of the undisclosed locations. Ann.
                                    
CURRY: Very interesting. Jamie Gangel, we're really looking forward to the interview. Thank you so much.

GANGEL: Thank you.

CURRY: You bet. And you're going to be able to see more of that interview on a special edition of Dateline on Monday night at 10:00, 9:00 Central. And the former Vice President will also be live here on the Today show for an exclusive interview next Tuesday.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC