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. babs reinard

    He does not have the brains to know it was not a good thing. He didn't get any info. or we would not have our troops in Iraq.

    June 3, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  2. Dan Simmons

    When he was president, I think that a great many people prayed regularly.

    June 3, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  3. Mike

    Once an idiot always an idiot. Bush is now trying to defend his illegal actions.

    June 3, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  4. realistic liberal

    A guy cuts the throat of a civilian and puts it on
    the internet. He is caught and a rag is put over his
    face and water is poured on the rag. The guy is
    afraid he might drown so he tells who else is planning
    to cut another captive civilian's throat.
    He is returned to his cell and fed a good hot meal
    and the other throat cutter is caught before he can
    kill an innocent civilian.
    What a dreadful thing the good guys have done. They
    get investigated.
    Do you really think that makes sense ???

    June 3, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  5. Rani McBride

    President Bush did nothing to save lives!

    June 3, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  6. mike

    Bush is the reason why we are having the problems in this country
    today because of that he was going to do what he want to do and who
    cares what anybody else says the fear factor is what he sold the
    public on and they bought it didn't he say in the past that he didn't know
    anything about water boarding and that cheney then became the
    focus of the issue

    June 3, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  7. Charlie

    In tough times Presidents need to make tough decisions. Sometimes you have to sacrifice your ideology for the better good of society as a whole.

    The term Fighting fire with fire comes to mind.

    Thank you Mr. President for making such wise decisions.

    June 3, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  8. Donnatella

    Of course he has no regrets, the man is not human, as far as the terriorist go, I really don't care what they do to them, but I wouldn't brag about it.

    June 3, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  9. zb

    I can understand why the worst President in modern times might pray a lot. Unfortunately, given a mistaken and mismanaged war; failure in Afghanistan; the rich getting richer and everyone else getting poorer; an economic meltdown; a failure of even the most basic regulation of the financial industry, the oil industry and who knows what else its pretty clear that whatever he was praying to and for wasn't listening.

    Maybe less time praying and more time thinking and doing would have been the way to go. I'm sure the families of thousands of needlessly dead soldiers and the people who have lost their homes, their jobs, and their savings might think so.

    And to think there are actually people in this country want to go back to more of this Republican/Tea Party crazyness. Who do I pray to for that not to happen.

    June 3, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  10. Chris

    Just like whgen he was President it is refreshing to hear a political leader simply reply to a question with a "Yeah, we waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed," No fancy monologue to avoid giving an answer.

    Mr. Bush was a great President and makes our current president look like a spoiled little boy the way he reacts.

    June 3, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  11. Joe

    He is just as dumb today as he was two years ago.

    June 3, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  12. Jack

    Nothing unexpected here, really. Delusions don't go away. Of course, the world is not a better place without Saddam Hussein. Iraq, under him, was Iran's main foe. Iran focused its energy and hatred on Iraq. That was the counterbalance. A balance of power he and his gang couldn't see. Bush is still playing the lead in his fantasy cowboy movie.

    June 3, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  13. Scott

    I prayed a lot too, George. I prayed that you would leave office. BTW, professing your prayers doesn't negate the damage this country suffered under your eight years of buffoonery.

    June 3, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  14. Proc

    Well said, GWB. Obama would probably bow or bake them a cake.

    Notice how he also refused to criticize Obama out of respect for the Presidency. Much different than Jimmy Carter, or even Obama who continues to blame Bush for everything.

    June 3, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  15. steve

    I don't believe in bashing the former President, but his statement is bordering on Sarah Palin territory...and I like to say he is a tad bit smarter than that....but maybe I need to rethink my position.

    June 3, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  16. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Although the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein, it still doesn't change the fact that your admiistration misled the Amercian people and that 4,000 plus American lives have been lost in Iraq. For what? I still don't seen any traces of Yellow Cake Uranium.

    June 3, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  17. Jim

    US Government authorization of torture puts our captured troops at even greater risk . Our enemies will certainly apply the same logic that Bush/Cheney did. Evil is evil, I don't care who justifies it or how.

    June 3, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  18. PDXSerric

    A prime example of why religion and politics should not mix.

    June 3, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  19. Gearóid Ó Ceallaigh

    This scum should be prosecuted for treason to the Constitution and war crimes.

    June 3, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  20. logical74

    I wonder if God told him to torture people and then lie about it.

    June 3, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  21. Sergio

    Why are W's comments controversial? He may be, at times, a pots, but at least treated terrorist as what they are, scum bags, not trying to be politically correct and not offend them. Give us a break, would ya, Obi? Why the hell did we vote for you?

    June 3, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  22. Mike

    Bush,

    ANYTHING you say can be used against US soldiers in the field from now on. So best you just keep your admission to torturing others to yourself

    June 3, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  23. Marge

    Hey folks lets get him to be the waterboardee and then he can show us how the person re-acted. He might give us all the info on the corruption in the white house, with the two stolen elections and rove's involvement.

    June 3, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  24. obama victim

    thank you for keeping us safe Mr. President

    June 3, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  25. Chad C

    Thatta boy W! Not a big fan of your spending, but I couldn't agree with you more on how you treated terrorists & Iraq. You had a lot more seeds than the current president. You did what you thought was right and just, not by the opinion polls (like someone does now). Hope you're enjoying life.

    June 3, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
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