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. Tea Klux Klan

    No Georgie, the world is a better place without you.

    June 3, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  2. Snalg

    I wonder how he'd feel if "getting rid of him was the right thing to do" was aimed at him instead of Hussien – who ended up hanged? Who makes Bush think he can play God – all that praying? Seems like he's still a smug, stinking hypocrite to me. Maybe he deserves the same fate as his dead victim, the thousands of dead Americans, the tens of thousands of wounded people and hundred thousand dead Iraq civilians? Nah .... I can't committ his Sinner-In-Chief's sin.

    June 3, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  3. Patsy, Texas

    He prayed--he "really did"--but did he listen?

    June 3, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  4. Barron Laycock

    It is easy for someone who has lived a privileged and sheltered life to take bold actions and espouse lofty morals for his actions. He has no clue what torture would be like because he has no way of understanding human suffering. As Will Shakespeare put it; "He jests at scars that never felt a wound". George Bush is a soft. effeminate, and effete creature of the American rich class, and he should be tried for crimes against humanity. Justifying his actions by suggesting that somehow doing so saved lives supposes conclusions that are not justified by the facts.

    June 3, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  5. MikinAZ

    Presidential Legacy – one of our worst. Repubilcan Party Legacy – the beginning of their downfall. His Book? – Likely lots of pictures and should have been titled, "Presidentializering for Dummy's". His idea of separation of church and state – non existent. Not all are of the same religeon and many are not religeous at all. For a President to claim praying was such a large part of his life is a "Shocker" (ala Bush throwing the sign when attempting to support the Sun Devils) – tho it does explain his disbelief in climate change/global warming since he apparently rejects science at every turn. ("I prayed a lot," he said. "I really did. I prayed before every major speech. I prayed before debates) Tho I guess if I had his IQ I would pray before everything I ever did too:) Seriously, lets make some human progress – Elect No More That Govern From A Point Of Religeous Faith.

    June 3, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  6. Trisha

    Agree with Bush's descisions or not, you have to appreciate that at least he takes responsibility for his actions and stands by them.

    June 3, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  7. Anonymous

    That the former president happily recalls his complicity in the illegal torture of fellow human beings demonstrates that he is morally clueless and intellectual vacuity.

    June 3, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  8. Bill

    Whether or not you agree with him, the man can make decisions. Unlike the current occupant of the Waffle (I mean White) House.

    June 3, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  9. Larry

    Dubya is a real piece of work.

    He starts a war that never should have been started; that should have been ruled illegal by the U.N., if the U.N. weren't so corrupt.

    No WMD's found, no link between Iraq and 9/11. Meanwhile 4330 young American soldiers gave their lives, thousands more maimed, an estimated 100,000 innocent iraquis killed. Torture used at Gitmo and Abu Graib.

    And this clown laughs about it. And justifies it in his own sick head.

    June 3, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  10. Dave Wyman

    That the former president happily recalls his complicity in the illegal torture of fellow human beings demonstrates that he is morally clueless and intellectual vacuity.

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

    Compared to THIS administration, Bush 43 looks a little better everyday.

    Except to T'sah and Dom mom.

    June 3, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  12. jim

    repeated studies show torture, at best, does not work. as a christian, he should be profoundly ashamed. as a man, he should be in prison. as a human, he should be purged from the gene pool.

    June 3, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  13. Jayne

    If I recall his words in the past "We don't torture in this country". Oh yeah Mr. Bush ? LIAR, you should be ashamed of yourself and have the decency to shut up.

    June 3, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  14. Ben in Texas

    News Flash! George W. Bush admits to war crimes, under the Geneva Convention. And he is unrepentant.

    Indict Bush!

    June 3, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  15. jason

    I agree with waterboarding. Terrorists have no rights. I think we should extract info from them and then execute them. Terrorists that have been released have returned to fighting against us. And why keep them locked up forever? There is not a place in this world for people like them. I wish Jack Bauer were involved to extract info. I am thankful that we had a President like both Bush's and Raegan who still have Christian values like our founding fathers of this country. All Presidents make mistakes but overall I think Bush kept our country safer. Look at all the attempts that are happening now.

    June 3, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  16. Billy G

    I love this man and this country misses people like him. No apology just tell it like it is. You will never hear him belittle this country like our current ruler and his wife

    June 3, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  17. Bubba

    Why is he not in jail? Give him what we gave Bill Clinton: a full investigation.

    June 3, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  18. thegenie23

    One of the bravest presidents the US has ever had.

    June 3, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  19. DOC

    Bush should be waterboarded along with Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rove. Ashcroft too

    June 3, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  20. Marilyn G

    Mr. Bush you killed a lot of innocent people and you didn't tell the American people you were going to invade Iraq to get rid of Saddam Hussein. God will judge you in the end.

    June 3, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  21. cspurgeon

    Well he is still an idiot even when in retirement. Reminds me why I voted for Obama and not more of the same.

    June 3, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  22. Jim

    He didn't save lives, he took lives and this is how. By waterboarding prisoners he forced them to lie about there being weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. These forced lies were than used in congress to manipulate our representatives into allowing Bush to allow our country to go to war with Iraq and that Iraq was the enemy. The war killed thousands of American soldiers, and hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children in Iraq, all while making the war industry $trillions in no-bid contracts and stealing every asset Iraq had while also installing a puppet government under our control.

    As based in the Nuremberg trials against the Nazi's from WWII, waterboarding is a war crime. The criminal just admitted to engaging in war crimes and his willingness to do it again.

    June 3, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  23. fedup

    Really? Tell us something new CNN! It's amazing that you have this story on your front page but absolutely nothing about Obama's advisor trying to get a candidate to back out of a race by offering him a job. CNN you amaze me. Report the news people. Bush is no longer news. What this current administration is doing is news. Got it? Good!

    June 3, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  24. Mike

    If al-qaeda did waterboarded our troops and gave this same excuse word for word Bush would fall back on how eeeevil they are. Does he not understand that once we engage in this behavior we give everyone else in the world a free pass to do so? Does he not understand the term 'moral highground'?

    June 3, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  25. wake up

    I miss W! He treated terroists like enemies of the state...not friends like BHO does. Obama is a horror of a president in every single way!!!

    June 3, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
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