CNN’s Jake Tapper sat down with former Vice President Dick Cheney to discuss his new book Heart: An American Medical Odyssey, NSA spying, his daughter’s Wyoming Senate race and more. This interview will air today on CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper at 4 p.m. ET. A preview from the interview is below.
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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TAPPER: I have to ask you about some big items in the news…– especially, the National Security Agency, um, spying scandal, for want of a better word, all this news that the U.S. conducted surveillance on our own allies. Some of the documents, um, posted by — or leaked by Edward Snowden, uh, to the media, indicate that these programs started in 2002.
Um, why spy upon an ally?
CHENEY: Uh, Jake, if there were such a program, it’d be classified and I couldn’t talk about it. It would be totally inappropriate. And I haven’t been in the loop now, obviously, for more than four years. So it’s a — it’s just one of those subjects I couldn’t discuss.
TAPPER: Without getting specific, on a theoretical basis, what is the interest of the United States in conducting surveillance on a country or a leader who is a clear ally of the United States?
CHENEY: Um, I’ve — I’ve got to go with the answer I’ve given you.
Let me — let me say this. We do have, um, a fantastic intelligence capability worldwide against all kinds of — of, uh, potential issues and concerns. Um, we are vulnerable, as was shown on 9/11, and, um, you never know, uh, what you’re going to need when you need it. And the fact is, we do collect a lot of intelligence, without speaking about any particular target or group of targets. That intelligence capability is enormously important to the United States, to our conduct of foreign policy, um, to the defense matters, uh, to economic matters. And, um, I, um, I’m a strong supporter of it.
TAPPER: Do you think the Snowden leaks have hurt America’s ability to defend itself?
CHENEY: I do. I think he’s a traitor. I think — I hope we can catch him at some point, and that, uh, he receives the, um, the justice he deserves.
Watch CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper” at 4 p.m. ET today for more from Tapper’s interview with former Vice President Dick Cheney.