Dick Cheney Feared Terrorists Could Kill Him Through Defibrillator

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 19 2013 12:22 PM

Dick Cheney Feared Terrorists Could Kill Him by Hacking His Defibrillator

The scene in Homeland was actually kind of realistic. Or so says former vice president Dick Cheney. “I found it credible,” Cheney said of the scene in the Showtime hit that shows a terrorist killing the vice president by hacking his heart device. “It was an accurate portrayal of what was possible.”

Paranoid? Perhaps. But in a 60 Minutes interview on Cheney's long battle with heart disease it seems his cardiologist, Jonathan Reiner, was the one who raised the alarm bells and had the defibrillator's wireless functions disabled.  “It seemed to me to be a bad idea for the vice president of the United States to have a device that maybe somebody on a rope line or someone in the next hotel room or downstairs might be able to get into, hack into,” Reiner told Sanjay Gupta. “I worried that someone could kill you.” Reiner and Cheney appeared on 60 Minutes to promote Heart, a book they co-authored.

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Cheney has suffered five heart attacks and has undergone a quadruple bypass operation. Ultimately though the former vice president feels lucky because he has been able to receive “many modern heart treatments that seemed to come along at just the right time,” as CBS notes. Cheney insists he had never been counseled on the evidence that shows links between heart disease and memory loss. And, regardless, says his health has never affected his work performance, dismissing the idea that his stressful job could have contributed to his illness.  “I simply don't buy the notion that it contributed to my heart disease,” Cheney said.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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