admitted yesterday that Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed
mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, was waterboarded by the US, and said he
would do it again "to save lives".
"Yeah, we waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed," the former president told a business audience in Grand Rapids, Michigan. "I'd do it again to save lives."
Waterboarding is a simulated drowning technique that the Obama administration has said is torture. Mohammed was captured in Pakistan in 2003 and is the most senior al-Qaida operative in US custody.
his speech, Bush also defended the decision to go to war with Iraq in
2003. He said ousting Saddam Hussein "was the right thing to do and the
world is a better place without him".
But he said he was not
tempted to criticise Barack Obama. "You are not going to see me in the
public square criticising the president."
In February he said he
was "trying to regain a sense of anonymity. I didn't like it when a
certain former president made my life miserable." This was said to be a
reference to Jimmy Carter, president from 1976 to 1980.
talked about the role of religion in his life. "I prayed a lot. I
really did. I prayed before every major speech. I prayed before
debates. It was a very important experience."
And he talked about
the morning of 9/11, describing how he had learned that first one, then
two planes had hit the World Trade Centre in New York. The third plane,
which hit the Pentagon near Washington DC, was "a declaration of war on
our country", he said.
Bush's memoir Decision Points will be published in November.