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Cheney: Obama Has "A Pretty Good Team"

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Vice President Dick Cheney, in his first televised interview since the November election, said this of President-elect Barack Obama's national security team: "I must say, I think it's a pretty good team."

In particular, the vice president lauded Mr. Obama's decision to keep Robert Gates as Defense Secretary and said retired Gen. Jim Jones would be "very, very effective" as national security adviser. He also weighed in Sen. Hillary Clinton's selection as secretary of state.

"While I would not have hired Sen. Clinton, I think she's tough," Cheney said in the interview with ABC News. "She's smart, she works very hard and she may turn out to be just what President Obama needs."

"I'm not close to Barack Obama, obviously, nor do I identify with him politically. He's a liberal. I'm a conservative," he added.

In the interview, the vice president also defended the actions of the Bush Administration in regard to waterboarding and the decision to go to war in Iraq. He disagreed with former Bush adviser Karl Rove who said last week that he didn't think the U.S. would have gone to war if the prewar intelligence said Saddam Hussein didn't have weapons of mass destruction.

"I disagree with that," Cheney said. "As I look at the intelligence with respect to Iraq, what they got wrong was that there weren't any stockpiles… What they found was that Saddam Hussein still had the capability to produce weapons of mass destruction. He had the technology, he had the people, he had the basic feed stock."

On the use of waterboading in the questioning terror suspects, Cheney told ABC News it was an appropriate and a "successful" means at getting information from alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

"There was a period of time there, three or four years ago, when about half of everything we knew about al Qaeda came from that one source," Cheney said.

He also disagreed with those who have called for closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

You can read more from the interview here.

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