June 3rd, 2010
10:35 AM ET
5 years ago

Bush: No regrets for waterboarding

Former President George W. Bush said Wednesday he has no regrets about authorizing the controversial waterboarding technique to interrogate terrorist suspects.
Former President George W. Bush said Wednesday he has no regrets about authorizing the controversial waterboarding technique to interrogate terrorist suspects.

(CNN) - In some of his most candid comments since leaving the White House, former President George W. Bush said Wednesday he has no regrets about authorizing the controversial waterboarding technique to interrogate terrorist suspects and wouldn't hesitate to do so again.

"Yeah, we waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed," the former president said during an appearance at the Economic Club of Grand Rapids, Michigan, according to the Grand Rapids Press.

"I'd do it again to save lives," he added.

In a question-and-answer session following his speech to the group of local business leaders, the former president also defended his 2003 decision to invade Iraq.

"Getting rid of Saddam Hussein was the right thing to do and the world is a better place without him," he said according to the paper.

Bush's comments come days after a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey showed 64 percent of American's favor President Barack Obama's plan to significantly draw down troop levels in Iraq by the end of the summer. But public approval of the plan falls to 51 percent if Iraq does not have a stable government by August, the poll also showed.

The former president also opened up on a host of other issues, including the role faith played during his years in the White House.

"I prayed a lot," he said. "I really did. I prayed before every major speech. I prayed before debates. It was a very important experience."

"I don't see how you can be president and not believe in a higher power," he added.

Bush's recently completed memoir, titled "Decision Points," will hit bookshelves next November.


Filed under: George W. Bush • Homeland Security • Popular Posts • Terrorism
soundoff (278 Responses)
  1. Serge NY

    I don't see any issues with waterboarding known terrorists. Terrorists are not POWs...

    June 3, 2010 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  2. Mikey

    Well, he may not regret it, but a large portion of the U.S. poplulation does, especially those who understand that torture really doesn't work and those refuse abandon their principals out of feat. I'm sure a bunch of fear driven conservatives will put in their two cents here, and to that I say, "cowards are as cowards do."

    June 3, 2010 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  3. kowa

    Great call. Most americans would agree that it may have saved american lives!
    Obama would rather protect them so they can attack us!

    June 3, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  4. kilo charlie

    i think it's a tribute to this country that people elected a mentally challenged president. what's brownie doing through this whole BP thing.

    June 3, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  5. Eli

    A clear majority of Democrats in the Senate (29-21) voted for the Iraq War Resolution.

    June 3, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  6. Judy

    I can easily see why he will go down in history as one of the worst and most destructive Presidents this country has ever had along with his sidekick Cheney.

    June 3, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  7. John Wilson, Racine, WI

    This man and his party of NO is exactly what is wrong with America!

    June 3, 2010 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  8. Bob of Lompoc

    That's what War Criminals say, until they face a Court. Then they claim they didn't give the order, it was misunderstood, and the subordinates "went too far". Some day this man will face a Court or some other Body to pass judgement. He's real tough in front of a bunch of business people in Republican Strong Hold Grand Rapids MI. We'll see how that works out – maybe later.

    BTW Bush – have you ever given a thought to what YOU started when you, safe in the White House, talking pretty tough for a former cheerleader, started the torture thing? You think the "Bad Guys" didn't take a hint from you that torture was considered by the "civilized" Americans to be OK, so why don't we do it too? I can't print here what the "Bad Guys" did to our people in captivity because CNN would not post it. Readers, think of the worst thing that anyone could do to your body – then realize that what the "Bad Guys" did to our people was worse.

    Bush – not only a War Criminal – but a stupid one.

    Karma – always remember – Karma!

    June 3, 2010 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  9. Djinn

    Executive arrogance STILL is a pitiful position to take when our children are fighting wars in other parts of a dangerous world.

    June 3, 2010 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  10. LSessions

    Finally! A politician that took a stand. Right or wrong, at least he took a position that didn't "wobble".

    June 3, 2010 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  11. John O

    A confession of a war crime. Who cares if he prayed over it, so dod Torquemada.
    Prosecute this liar and hand him the long sentence he deserves.

    June 3, 2010 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  12. Tom

    Go back under your rock where you belong, Bush.

    June 3, 2010 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  13. Spanish Inquisition

    Any word what Mr Bush said on the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico ?

    June 3, 2010 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  14. Gary Wilson

    It's amazing that G.W. can admit to authorizing torture and that the Justice Dept. remains inactive. The Obama administration's lack of action makes them just as guilty.

    June 3, 2010 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  15. RB

    THAT'S RIGHT FOLKS............A PRESIDENT THAT HAS MY BEST INTEREST AT HEART AND ISN'T AFRAID TO MAKE A DECISION!!!!!!! HE KICKS BUTT AND TAKES NAMES..........NO APOLOGIES!!!! Obama could learn a few things :)

    We miss you Bush!!!! Thanks for all you did.

    Can someone PLEASE tell me why Obama isn't taking an active role in anything other than those things on his own agenda? When does he plan on stepping in and finding someone to fix this oil problem? I didn't vote for the man but I'm ready for him to step up and do his dang job.

    June 3, 2010 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  16. RickD

    Once a certified nut – always a nut!

    June 3, 2010 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  17. Linda

    He should be prosecuted for war crimes! Along with Cheney and all of the others who broke laws at will. He is so arrogant that he will admit to criminal behavior without worry of prosecution. Prosecute him now!

    June 3, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  18. Ty

    Say what you may about President Bush but he did what he did with conviction. Yes, I voted for Barrack Obama but so far I am so disappointed with his wanting to please everyone before making a decision. The ability to lead with convictions is what separates a leader from the rest. I did not agree with his many of his policies and think he should have gotten rid of some of his key advisers but this guy speaks from the heart...polls don't matter.

    June 3, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  19. mike smiff

    if your father, mother, or child was killed in the 911 attack i am certain you have no worries about bush's comments. remember folks the terrorists don't care about any american and would do it again in a heart beat

    June 3, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  20. Russ

    Prayed to higher power? You don't run a freaking government on praying to higher power. No wonder he was a failure. There is no such higher power. It amazes me that someone that obviously didn't believe in the constitution, relied more on a fictional, poorly written novel called the Bible for direction. Religion and praying don't run countries. Education, common sense, family values and ambition maybe, but not praying!! Get the conservative, bible thumping, hypocritcal morons out of government and replace them with rational people.

    June 3, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  21. John

    Wow. I hope he was praying for forgiveness. Torturing people with no regrets probably doesn't play well in heaven.

    June 3, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  22. Dick Cheney

    Whew, my hand is tired from operating that puppet for 8 years. At least now it just goes on its own.

    June 3, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  23. Fernando

    Bush added: "what's one Trillion dollars of tax payers money? we got rid of the bad guy. We killed in the process hundreds of thousands of civilians but who's counting... not me... I'll do anything for my ideology and for the military industry".

    June 3, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  24. In Denver

    Good for Bush!! I'd rather a president who stands by his convictions than one who constantly analyzes the polls and does what is in his personal survival. The latter sounds a lot like our current president. BRING BACK "W"!!

    June 3, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  25. Andrew from New York City

    But what role did Barney play in your decision making process?

    June 3, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
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