Vice President Dick Cheney said he had signed off on the waterboarding of three top al Qaeda leaders at Guantanamo Bay, part of a group 33 put through what he called "enhanced interrogation" at the U.S. detention center in Cuba.

"I think there were a total of about 33 who were subjected to enhanced interrogation; only three of those who were subjected to waterboarding--Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah, and a third, [Abd al-Rahim] al Nashiri," Cheney told the Washington Times in an interview released by the vice president's office.

Cheney said he had personally signed off on the interrogation tactics, and had been briefed by the CIA, Department of Justice, and Office of Legal Counsel on the practices.

"I signed off on it; others did, as well, too," Cheney said. "I wasn't the ultimate authority, obviously. As the Vice President, I don't run anything. But I was in the loop."

Cheney termed Guantanamo, the often-criticized detention center for captured terrorists in Cuba, a "first-rate facility."