Many people in the world call it torture but George W Bush and the CIA insist on calling "waterboarding" a form of enhanced interrogation. The former US president believes that waterboarding is not torture because it causes no physical damage and is always conducted in the presence of medical personnel. Barack Obama has disowned the procedure, earning a rebuke from Dick Cheney.
President Bush has been silent since leaving the White House but has just published his memoirs, Decision Points, and in interviews to promote the book, the 43rd US President has defended waterboarding:
"In an interview with The Times, the former US President offered a vigorous defence of the coercive interrogation technique: “Three people were waterboarded and I believe that decision saved lives.” He denied that waterboarding, which simulates drowning, amounted to torture. Asked if he authorised the use of waterboarding to get information from the captured al-Qaeda leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, he was unequivocal: “Damn right!” In his new book he writes: “Their interrogations helped break up plots to attack American diplomatic facilities abroad, Heathrow airport and Canary Wharf in London, and multiple targets in the United States.”"
Many British people will be sympathetic with the President's arguments. A YouGov poll, conducted over the weekend, found that 50% supported Britain’s security services using information passed to them by other countries that might have been obtained by torture. That compares with 31% who think it should not be used.
Other highlights from the Times interview:
- Tony Blair is compared to Winston Churchill.
- America will remain the main superpower because of China's internal problems.
- “There were things we got wrong in Iraq, but that cause is eternally right.”
Read more here, behind The Times' paywall.
The Guardian has much more including on his programme for tackling AIDS in the developing world, a programme he describes as "a medical version of the Marshall Plan".
VIDEO FROM NBC ON THE MEMOIRS: