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Cheney kept secret signed resignation letter while vice president

Former Vice President Dick Cheney. AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Former Vice President Dick Cheney kept a signed letter of resignation locked in a safe throughout most of his eight years in the White House, he revealed in an interview to air next week on NBC.

Cheney, who will be promoting his forthcoming book "My Time," told NBC's Jamie Gangel that he kept a secret, signed letter of resignation locked in a safe at all times in the event that something happened to his health.

"I did it because I was concerned that - for a couple of reasons," Cheney told Gangel. "One was my own health situation. The possibility that I might have a heart attack or a stroke that would be incapacitating."

"And, there is no mechanism for getting rid of a vice president who can't function," Cheney added.

The former vice president said he signed the letter in March 2001 and that former President George W. Bush and one other staffer were aware of its existence.

Cheney, now 70, had four heart attacks before becoming Mr. Bush's vice president. In 2010, he suffered a fifth heart attack, and later had a mechanical heart pump surgically implanted into his body to help his heart function.

In the interview, Cheney also reiterated his support for so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" and said he would "strongly support" waterboarding "high value" detainees.

"I would strongly support using it again if we had a high value detainee and that was the only way we could get him to talk," Cheney said.

"Even though so many people have condemned it, people call it torture; you think it should still be a tool?" asked Gangel.

Cheney's response was characteristically succinct: "Yes."