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. Wert

    If the dummy had stood up for what he was doing earlier we might not have the current idiot in the White House.

    June 3, 2010 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  2. Moron!

    IT DIDN'T SAVE LIVES IDIOT! All it did was spark more anger and hatred towards the USA! thus, ultimately killing our soldiers and innocent Iraqi civilians! These republican rednecks just don't get the fact that their hatred begits hatred!

    June 3, 2010 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  3. G D Beckett

    The U.S. history of getting rid of or installing dictators has been anything but stellar. Now we are again mired in an unstable area of the world where our only real interest is their oil. We're not taking out dictators in Africa or elsewhere. Our men & women in the services are put in harms way due to this failed way of thinking.

    June 3, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  4. John in Brooklyn

    No surprise. The Bush Administration had no regard for civil rights, the Constitution, international law, or...for that matter...the truth. Should we really expect the head of that administration to actually regret it?

    June 3, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  5. cjl

    Amen. I love how his comments are considered 'Eye Raising' by CNN. Really? It was his decision. So of course he stands by it. And most sane American's are fine with that.

    June 3, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  6. Jon

    He'd invade Iraq again? This man is clueless. What has the war in Iraq done for the United States? Thousands of young American men and women dead? Check. Billions or even trillions of our tax dollars spent? Check. Thousands of Iraqi civilians dead? Check. An ongoing and open-ended occupation of a formerly sovereign nation thousands of miles from home? Check. Is all that really worth it to get "rid of Saddam Hussein"? Absolutely not. The decision to invade Iraq was one of the worst decisions this country has ever made and is a black mark on George Bush that I'll never forgive.

    June 3, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  7. Choice that matters

    Of course he is going to defend the war in Iraq. He has put our men and women at stake. He better own it. Not to mention our hard earned tax dollars funding the war in Iraq. He cant turn back. He is a patriot for being a President and for defending our U.S. security but he had made mistakes along the way. alot of mistakes.

    June 3, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  8. Mark K

    If we had waterboarded George Bush to find out what he DIDN'T know about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, we would also have saved lives.

    June 3, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  9. teena

    So the former POTUS admits to authorizing and using torture? Spoken by someone who never had to worry about serving in the US military and being tortured.

    June 3, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  10. Jeff

    You go President Bush! We are such a sissy nation......waterboarding is the safest way to torture someone, and when it gets information out of the person that will save lives, please do it over and over again. They probably did not waterboard this guy enough, is my thought.

    June 3, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  11. menocu

    I cannot believe that he has a clear conscience

    June 3, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  12. nora

    "Yeah, we waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed"

    FINALLY!! When will the war crimes tribunal begin??

    June 3, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  13. William Jefferson

    He has now publicly confessed to war crimes. I hope prosecutors are readying their cases.

    June 3, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  14. Bob

    It was the right move. He did what it took to keep the country safe. Too bad the current administration cares more about the terrorists than the citizens it's supposed to protect.

    Bush doesn't seem to bad now with Obama in office.

    June 3, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  15. vet in midwest

    His statement is a false choice. Torture doesn't work, men will say anything to make the pain stop. FBI agents and others have testified we got more usable information out of suspects just interrogating them using their trained techniques, and after they were tortured they clammed up. Osama Bin Laden and others tell these guys that Americans are monsters, horrible people that must be killed. When they see we are just like everyone else.. human beings, their brain washing starts to wear off. At least until 20 gallons of water go up their nasal passages and into their throats and air ways.. then all that propaganda starts to feel real.

    June 3, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  16. ricko

    This man had guts. A leader who wasn't afraid to make the right decision to protect innocent lives. You don't win wars by mollycoddling evil.

    June 3, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  17. JES

    You shouldn't have any regrets the press should for blasting it all over the world.

    This is a war where the enemy will kill anyone who is an American.

    Smetimes you have to fight fire with with any means you have. We need to stop broadcasting everything we do and have the press held accountable for any deaths that they cause because they are only trying to sell papers.

    If the press doesn't cause our downfall the current adminstration will or both.

    June 3, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  18. Lanre Ogunz

    This guy may not be as bad as we think he is but he has a lot to learn when it comes to speaking.

    I think he destroyed more than he wished for by speaking arrogantly.

    June 3, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  19. shadtree

    This is no surprise, of course he belives he did the right thing. Unfortunately for the United States his decision to start an unjust war and not pay for it, along with cutting taxed is part of the reason we are in a much weakened state.

    June 3, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  20. Diana

    I don't blame him. Anyone threatening my kids, family, country- absolutely! President Bush did the right thing and others should lay off! Would you let that guy off so easy and risk others lives just to play it safe so to speak??? Ridiculous that we are still talking about Bush's presidency– why are we not more worried about what's going on in and around the USA now??? Geez!!

    June 3, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  21. JimmyRomero

    I agree with him to save lives go do it ,the people cut head and torture no one complains that

    June 3, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  22. Ken in Mt

    Typical of the right winger(s): everything is permissable in the right circumstances, including suspending due process of law, and fifth ammendment. Give them a chance and they will add anyone insufficiently conservative as well, wecan have the police state for the new milenium.

    June 3, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  23. mdn

    Ah yes...two unnecessary wars, a dead economy, poor disaster relief, waterboarding and other such torture...I do so much miss the days of the president without a brain who spoke english as a second language.

    June 3, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  24. RBNH

    I don't miss him one bit

    June 3, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  25. Psychologist

    Sure, you are above the law, GWB! If (white) Americans were waterboarded elsewhere, you would throw a fit.

    June 3, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
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