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. AV1

    Well at least he doesn't blame the previous administration. Yes, you would have done the same after watching an american soldier chopped up and draged down the streets of bagdad. Does your left wing values only include terriost or do you people care about our troops?

    June 3, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  2. Bill

    It's good to be reminded of what a leader is supposed to be like. A properly functioning moral compass that enables the correct distinction between friands and enemies should be constitutionall mandatory. The current President doesn't seem to be able to properly navigate his way throuhg his sock drawer with a roadmap.
    We can not properly defend this nation by kowtowing to every hostile dictator (although it may be proper etiquitte to do so if one is aspiriing to join their ranks), or politically correct interest group.
    I believe a fair judgement of history will give George W. Bush far more credit and far less blame than contemporary groupthink will allow.

    June 3, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  3. Jeff

    Bush/Cheney have offered no evidence that waterboarding produced actionable intelligence. In fact, the public information from the military suggests that most of what they learned from the guy they got before they started waterboarding him. Bush says he stands by his decision to invade Iraq because getting rid of Hussein was a good thing. Funny, I thought the reason was to get those nasty WMD's and yellow cake out of Hussein's hands before we all saw a mushroom cloud over D.C. Oh yeah, that's right, Saddam didn't have any of that. Oh well, he was still a bad guy and we should just overthrow every country where we don't like the leader. Let's see: Burma, Chad, Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela. These two guys, Bush and Cheney should be prosecuted and thrown in prison with a permanent gag order.

    June 3, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  4. precious

    No matter how much we beat up on Pres. Bush, God will always protect him.

    June 3, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  5. hulamama51

    I still believe that history will one day show what a great President he is and was.

    June 3, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  6. sheppard

    Saddam was only one of many 'bad guys' in the world. Can you explain to us why your adMISSistration chose him? 'Easiest target' comes to mind. That sure back-fired on you didn't it, you loser. You & dick left quite a mess for someone else to have to clean up. Go away. You stayed silence until you had a book to sell and now here you are again with your smirky smile and bumbling explanations that explain nothing.

    June 3, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  7. JOhn

    George Bush's legacy will forever be tarnished by one major failure......he did not capture or kill the hierarcy of Al Queda, and instead reduced the effort to complete this urgent task by looking "tough" on other fronts (Iraq, waterrboarding, bring-em-on)etc. This failure and poor decision making will forever doom the legacy of his presidency irrespective of how the new Iraq turns out.

    June 3, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  8. aneanderthal

    Gosh, so refreshing, an actual honest president. Wish we had him back. A man who would actually uphold the constitution

    June 3, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  9. Russ

    Sounds like a blatant admission of guilt suitable for a War Crimes charge.

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

    Well Mr. Bush, you'd also better pray that the real truth about 9/11 never comes out.

    June 3, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  11. Bertina

    The insane thing is people who have problems with Obama's administration will look on Bush's policies as if they were legitimate.

    June 3, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  12. David

    He still doesn't get it and his comments prove we only invaded Iraq to achieve a strategic goal in the region by democratizing that county. There are a lot of bad brutal regimes in the world and it's not up to our military to overthrow them when they do not directly threaten our nation. At least Bush campaigned on that point. The proxy war against Pakistan in Afghanistan is far more critical in terms of neutralizing threats and making the world a better place.

    June 3, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  13. socalgal

    Finally – a preisdent who had the guts to make the right decision and not apologize to the world about it!

    June 3, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  14. Chuck T

    Spoken like a true idiot with no idea of the consequences of these actions. No idea that the torture of individuals in U.S. custody is alien to everything we stand for. No idea of how these actions will affect the lives of U.S. service members stationed aboard. No idea of the evil that torture can do to the heart of a nation and its reputation throughout the world.

    There is also not one single incident that he can point to where the torture of these individuals provided any useable intelligence that could not have been acquired with other means. Big macho rambling idiot with no clue, still the same ole Dubya.

    June 3, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  15. flimflam

    The man has now admitted to authorizing torture, and committing crimes against humanity. How can we have a functional democracy when the countries elites are allowed to commit crimes without repercussions?

    June 3, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  16. Kevin from Co

    Thankyou president Bush. This is a scary country now with the gutless, wimpy Obama in charge. Every country is going to just walk all over us now with no fear.

    June 3, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  17. Dean

    Everybody knows that he authorized it knowing it was torture. That isn't the question. The question is why so many are willing to start going down that path. The answer is because they are unable to consider the long-term consequences, and only care about the immediate concerns.

    June 3, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  18. Erik

    Where are the WMDs, George???

    What a dope.

    June 3, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  19. Carl Justus

    That only proves that we lose brain power as we age.

    June 3, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  20. Four and The Door

    If there is a fine line between torture and aggressive interrogation, waterboarding is absolutely on the side of aggressive interrogation. It makes a person uncomfortable but it does no permanent damage. Isn't it really even less dangerous than tasering a suspect?

    I'm glad we had a leader like George Bush in the White House when we needed strong, decisive leadership and we did need it many times during his administration.

    June 3, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  21. Anon

    That scumbag Bush is a war criminal and should be hanged for treason!!!!!!!

    June 3, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  22. Delussional

    He did the bait and switch from WMD to bringing democracy to IRAQ. Would that he felt the same need to bring/restore democracy to the U.S. (given his track record of ignoring the Constitution, civil rights, the spirit of the rule of law, etc., etc, ad nauseam)

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

    do the democraps even realize that the contrast between bush and their incompetent fool they elected is the difference between an america that is strong and one that is weak – one that is feared and one that is mocked – they (dems ) have put in place an inexperienced narsicist who is threatening our very way of life and he is doing it because he doesn't believe in america and who and what we are! it is beyond freightening!!!!!

    June 3, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  24. BudInTexas

    This Alfred E. Neuman look a like needs to be put in jail.

    June 3, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  25. smitohio2012

    waterboard bush/cheney to find out what they knew about 911 , the stock market crash .weapons of mass destuction ? these two guys are weapons of mass destruction . why is george humiliating himself now ? He had 8 years and a republican backed congress for six to ruin the country and now he backs torture .

    June 3, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
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