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Vice-presidents argue over security
Cheney and Biden in war of words over treatment of Detroit plane bomb suspect.
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2010 09:11 GMT

Dick Cheney is a firm supporter in the waterboarding method to extract information [GALLO/GETTY]

Joe Biden, the US vice-president has rejected claims by Dick Cheney, the former vice-president that the Obama administration has been soft on security issues.

Cheney had suggested that the controversial practice of waterboarding should have been used in an attempt to extract information from Umar Farouk Abdullmutallab, the Nigerian arrested over an apparent attempted bombing on an airliner on Christmas Day.

When asked by the CBS news network on Sunday whether "enhanced interrogation techniques should have been used, Cheney said: "You ought to have all of those capabilities on the table."

But Biden countered that the US authorities were getting "significant information" from Abdulmutallab and that he "continued to talk because we have handled him in a way that encouraged him to talk".

He told CBS television's "Face the Nation" that the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques were "not effective".

US justice officials have said that 23-year-old Abdulmutullab, who attempted to blow up explosives as the plane approached Detroit, is co-operating well with investigators.

'Rewriting history'

Biden also rejected Republican charges the Nigerian should have been handed over to the military and noted that Richard Reid, the so-called shoe-bomber was treated exactly the same way as Abdulmutallab by the Bush administration in 2001.

"Dick Cheney's a fine fellow, but he is not entitled to rewrite history without it being challenged. I don't know where he has been," Biden told NBC's "Meet the Press".

Cheney, a chief architect of counterterrorism policy in the previous US administration, said had said that the new adminsitration's policy of framing "terror attacks against the United States as criminal acts, as opposed to acts of war" was dangerous.

"I think we have to treat it as a war. This is a strategic threat to the United States. I think that's why we were successful for seven-and-a-half years in avoiding a further major attack against the United States."

The former vice-president also said that his successor was "dead wrong" to have claimed that another September 11-style attack on the US was unlikely.

Shortly after taking office in January of last year, Barack Obama, the president, banned the use of harsh interrogation methods on suspects, including waterboarding, or simulated drowning, which human rights groups call torture.

Source:
Agencies
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