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

Bush: No regrets for waterboarding

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/03/art.bush.fb.gi.jpg caption="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. Don

    When he was president, it was his decision to use waterboarding. The current president does not use waterboarding. It is not a big issue. When you are the current president it is your right to decide how best to protect the citizens. During the post 911 Bush era, I felt protected. The current presidents own plane scared more people than the terrorist did in NYC.

    June 3, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  2. jhl

    Really? Getting rid of Saddam was worth the loss of lives, the costs, and the decline of the US in the world?

    Should we assume that a higher power caused you not to rid the world of Kim Jong-il or Bashar al-Assad or many of the war-mongering, genocide-intent African leaders?

    And by the way, shouldn't Bush read a book before writing one? I know he and Rove talked about all the books that they read, but who believes that? And while it was more engrossing than planes hitting the WTC towers, "Met Pet Goat" doesn't count.

    June 3, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  3. Allison

    I want to be safe, but just like when growing up you're told to, "Be the better man, and don't stoop to their level", not to mention love your brother, turn the other cheek, and other Biblical commandments since many consider us a "Christian nation". For one, the CIA and FBI and many other studies have shown that you rarely get any type of reliable information from torture anyways. Plus, it just puts us at the same level as countries like Iran, China, and Hussein's Iraq. I love all the people in those countries, but I for one always felt that we were a more sensible, sympathetic country, that wouldn't result to barbarianism every time we feel threatened by something.

    June 3, 2010 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  4. phoenix86

    It is called leadership and protecting the United States. Something Obama is lacking.

    Wait for the liberal haters to.....

    June 3, 2010 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  5. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    What a lying scumbag.... what higher power? Cheney?

    June 3, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  6. Northeast

    OMG – I've tried to bury the memory of the GWB nightmare.

    June 3, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  7. RH

    As if anyone had any doubt that Bush believes that means justify ends in any and all cases. Incidentally, that's how terrorists think.

    There is no more justification under the law for torturing a guilty man there there is an innocent man, nor an evil man over a good man.

    Sure, the point's been beaten to death, but only because there are people who still don't get that if we do not hold to the principles of justice we claim to hold so dear as we combat the threat of terrorism, then we really aren't fighting for much in the end.

    June 3, 2010 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  8. Joe

    Me too! I have no regret whatsoever for our government and law enforcement officials to use waterboarding as a final resort to extract vital information from captured terrorists in order to prevent future attacks from these terrorists and save millions of American citizens at high risks. Let Obama and Co. including the entire DemocRat leadership and those liberals to say to the terrorists "we are terribly sorry to have capture you in terrorist acts and we will keep you nice and as comfortable as possible in our custody". You are standing either with Americans or with terrorists.

    June 3, 2010 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  9. ran

    If there is not a criminal investigation after this disclosure, then we as a Nation are done for. No one is above the law. If my memory serves me Bush along with others in his Administration swore that this never happened. Will anything happen? My guess NO. Too sad for us.

    June 3, 2010 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  10. chris24

    I thought we were supposed to learn from our mistakes.

    He and Cheney would both invade Iraq again, too.

    They should both be in jail, or send them to Iraq and let the
    people over there "thank" them as they deserve.

    June 3, 2010 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  11. Tina

    People who pray a lot as he is saying do not lie and kill so many people unnecessary. Look at how many people we have killed both US young guys and Iraqis. All in the name of so called democracy and bulleying maniac politics. True Christians do not do that.

    June 3, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  12. jbb

    Yes and he also said "Mission Accomplished" several years ago and how many lives have been lost since that statement. He also said "bring em on" while I had 2 grandson's serving in this war on terror.

    Saddam Hussein was a horrid man, but it was Osama Bin Ladin who was responsible for 911 and he is still a free man, why didn't he go after him. The little twirp in North Korea is an evil man, but we have done nothing about him either. As far as I'm concerned George W. Bush is an evil man for the decisions made while he was President.

    June 3, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  13. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but...

    True sociopaths never have regrets. As for belief in a higher power, puh-leeze, George, the only higher power you believed in was your corporate masters. Have a nice day!

    June 3, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  14. Joe

    He prayed to get the OK for waterboarding? He must have connected with the Devil because waterboarding is torture, and torture is illegal. God does not condone torture. Period. So much for Christianity and politics.

    June 3, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  15. Bob

    And I don't see how a man praying to God can instigate a war with no evidence, but it happened. Of course, Saddam got himself killed: had he considered himself human rather than godlike, he could have avoided the war raging in his country. But with a hot-headed president like Bush, it's not hard to see that Saddam's thumbing of his nose at America was all it took to start something that it looks like no one can stop.

    I'd like to see Bush waterboarded. If it's only tactical and not inhumane, then it should be similar to officers who are shot with a Taser to teach them how it feels. Bush's remarks are that of a bully, and I'm so happy he's part of American history rather than part of our current administration.

    June 3, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |

    GW is a much better war time president. He may not be the greatest in economics, but I would take him over Obama any day.

    June 3, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  17. Lisa Moore

    Geez, this guy takes the cake. He needed to pray and he still screwed up everytime he turned around. He needs to pray even harder now because he is headed straight to hell for all the horrible things he did including waterboarding.

    June 3, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  18. Popduds.com

    You don't get a refund if you overpray.

    June 3, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  19. Walter Baschnagel

    God Bless Pres. Bush on this issue.. HE is 100% right !! .

    June 3, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  20. soneill

    We should have used electric shock as well to interrogate. Wake up America, you are losing your country and we will be hit again as long as we have this "panty waste" regime in the White House.

    June 3, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  21. "I'd do it again to save lives"

    exactly whose life, mr. "I think I saved lives" did you save by invading Iraq and lying to get us there

    before you try to re-write history, admit your HUGE failures

    June 3, 2010 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  22. Rickster

    Excellent! We should be waterboarding every terrorist immediately after we catch them including nidal hasan, the underwear bomber and the Times Square bomber. khalid sheik mohammed sung like a canary once we started waterboarding him and the rest of these cowards would as well. Waterboard them until they tell us everything they know and then waterboard them some more.

    June 3, 2010 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  23. AlEx

    At least he is honest in his responses. That's what he believed. Sure, some of the decisions might be questionable, but at the time, he made the decision that he thought was in the country's best interest.

    Monday morning quarterbacks are a dime a dozen.

    June 3, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  24. funked

    And this comes from the guy, who's entire Administration denied this. Well folks, this pretty much sums it up about Repugs.

    June 3, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  25. Kevin Collins

    Hmmm, and this from the same guy who said "the U.S. doesn't torture".

    June 3, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12