June 3rd, 2010
10:35 AM ET
4 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. Nick , California

    I admit it... I shredded the constitution and pissed on the Geneva Convention.. because its what God wanted!!!

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

    I don't know any body who considers themselves a Christian would justify murdering anybody!!! There are so many bad people in this world, but it doesn't mean you go around killing them to make "your world" a better place! That's been the excuse of emperors, kings, presidents, and prime ministers since the beginning of civilization to dominate one another!

    To quote Gandhi: "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind"

    June 3, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  2. Hangar 13

    Obama would waterboard in a New York minute if someone in his family were held hostage. He just wouldn't do it if someone in YOUR family were in danger. Think about it.

    June 3, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  3. albertvitela

    He was an interesting President. I love president obama, but Bushy did protect the country.

    June 3, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  4. Jeff

    Good job, GW.

    Anyone doubt that Obama would also waterboard a terror suspect if he thought Micelle and his girls were in were in danger?

    June 3, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  5. Claudia Blairsville

    Bush diminished the Presidency. He compromised our country internationally, by not living up to his supposed Faith, and ethics, there were none in His Whitehouse . He lied, Cheney lied, Rumsfeld lied, Rove lied. How come they are off the hook?
    Thank God we have the leadership we have, some one with intellect and faith, both operational.

    June 3, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  6. Real American

    And no regrets either for making the White House a subsidiary of the oil industry. We are still cleaning up George W's dirty messes.

    June 3, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  7. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    ...By the way, this IS a confession. Can we now turn this dummy over to some international court for prosecution seeing how we lack to gumption to bring him up on charges ourselves?!

    Only in America can someone commit a crime and brag about it to the press sans the usual accompanying consequences. Oh, but let an "average" American pull this stunt. The po-po, FBI, CIA, NSA and all the other acronyms would be at his side WITH handcuffs BEFORE he could finish his statement.

    June 3, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  8. DC

    He saved lives...What about the lives he lost in the Iraqi war?

    June 3, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  9. chuck

    "I don't see how you can be president and not believe in a higher power". What a surprise. In other words, "I don't see how you can be president and not have some higher power to blame all your crappy decisions". He doesn't believe anyone who's beliefs don't align with his should be making decisions. I can't believe we actually RE-elected this buffoon. The worse our schools get, the more likely idiots like this will be elected again in the future.

    June 3, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  10. George

    What would you expect him to say? "I am a torturer and war criminal."?

    June 3, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  11. Right Leaning Independent

    Right on George!! Waterboard the terrorists again! All they are trying to do is kill as many Americans as possible!! It is a shame waterboarding is the roughest thing we did to them!! As for Iraq, the public and Dems were behind the effort to topple Saddam and only turned against it when the war turned tough! Imagine war being tough! Lack of resolve is typical for most liberal Americans! Obama claimed to be against the war yet he was not even in congress when it was voted on. He never saw the intelligence being shown on WMD's and only came out against it publicly after the war started to sour. He claimed to be able to lead in Iraq and Afghanistan and all he has done is figure out that war is difficult no matter how much he thought we could turn the tide!!

    June 3, 2010 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  12. Dano

    You should have just kept your mouth shut Mr. Bush. Many people were willing to believe that you were just following orders from Cheney. Now that you say you would do it all again it really makes you look stupid(er). Pray all you want but it doesn't change the fact that you made horrible decisions during your presidency and are responsible for much of the woes affecting our country today.

    I'm sure a sizable portion of Americans felt that the world would have been a better place without you and Cheney too.

    June 3, 2010 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  13. Diane

    I miss you George...............

    June 3, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  14. elidude

    I'd like to see if he feels the same way after he is captured for his war crimes and waterboarded!

    June 3, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  15. Harold L.

    Thank God he is gone. The ignorance is amazing and sad. I did not vote for Obama, but was so happy to see this fool leave office and stop representing my country.

    June 3, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  16. Tate

    God I wish we still had a man in office not the little man child coward obama is a complete joke and hopefully will be impeached for all his shady dealings.

    June 3, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  17. Ohhiya

    "Getting rid of Saddam Hussein was the right thing to do and the world is a better place without him"-Bush

    Idk man, ever since you took Al Gore's fear machine away he's been going off hard core about global warming. He warns that within 3 years the ice caps will be gone o.0. Has anyone told Siberia to invest in summer wear?

    June 3, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  18. Subhash Durlabhji

    I broke the law, trashed the constitution - and am proud of it! We really need to be more careful in selecting who our president will be, Bush made me ashamed for America. He is now in effect trashing God, as all that praying makes it sound like God sanctioned his actions.

    June 3, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  19. MIKE H.

    I don't like Bush for the most part. He grew government and generally showed his non-conservative side the entire time he was President. I do, however, love the fact that he treated the war on radical Islam the way he should have. Waterboarding those bastards was going easy on them. You can't treat the enemy with kid gloves. They must be defeated quickly and decisively.

    June 3, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  20. Andrew

    Good, he shouldn't have any regrets. He did what needed to be done.

    June 3, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  21. Big John

    The fathers of our country just rolled over in their graves. It was they who decided to be above torture. Bush is Disgusting!!!

    June 3, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  22. Carrie

    I wish he would have prayed even more..... for a LOT of money to pay for the war, too.

    Generations will be paying for his Republican war distortions/philosophy for a very long time.
    But, George, we citizens know what happens in the real world...real taxpayers will have to pay the real bills that you have left for us (and our kids) to pay. If there would have been a war tax, believe me, the war would never have happened. But, the spending and the killing go on and on. Does anyone feel safer because of the wars in the Middle East? Unfortunately, now the terror has come here to us......this is where we need the soldiers..on our own land.

    Ahhhhha! How interesting, George's comments are out there just in time to tantalize people over the next few months to buy his new book.
    Sorry, George, ain't buyin' it....none of it.
    Keep prayin, George.

    June 3, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  23. dodsoal

    A president who is proud of his record torture and the wholesale killing of huge numbers of innocent Iraqis, while at the same time ignoring the needs of millions of Americans, is either not listening to the answers or praying to the wrong deity.

    June 3, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  24. stephen

    Waterboarding? We did that to each other in college as part of our fraternity qualification and initiation. No bruising, no pain... what's the problem?

    It's funny how the 'left' will condemn what we do but will not condemn the actions of what they (terrorists) do, like the beheadings we witnessed on television. An amazing double standard.

    June 3, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  25. aaron in minneapolis

    I can't wait for the day people stop talking about religion guiding their decisions. You don't have to believe in Jesus, or Allah or any other God to know passion, moral, ethics, empathy and love. While religion is a fascinating subject it's a subject that's been manipulated by man for centuries to gain power, start wars, discriminate, force values and quite frankly enough is enough.

    June 3, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
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