9 Nov 2010
Former US President, George W. (the initial stands for "Waterboarding") Bush says this torture technique prevented terrorist attacks on Heathrow and Canary Wharf.
The former US President, George W. Bush, has insisted that the "waterboarding" of terrorist suspects by the CIA saved British lives by preventing terrorist attacks on Heathrow and Canary Wharf.
In an interview with the Times to mark the release of his memoir Decision Points, Bush mounted a strong defence of waterboarding, widely regarded as torture, as a legitimate tool in the fight against terrorism.
Three people were waterboarded and I believe that decision saved lives," said Bush, who denied that the practice amounted to torture. Asked if he had authorised waterboarding to gain information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the captured al-Qaeda leader, Bush responded: "Damn right!"
In his book, Bush 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."
The UK government has long rejected the use of waterboarding, saying it regards it as torture. In the interview, the 64-year-old former president was dismissive of the widespread hostility towards him in Britain.
"It doesn't matter how people perceive me in England. It just doesn't matter any more. And frankly, at times, it didn't matter then," he said.
Bush added that he offered Tony Blair the chance to opt out of sending British troops into Iraq.
He said that "rather than lose the government, I would much rather have Tony and his wisdom and his strategic thinking as the prime minister of a strong and important ally".However, Blair told him: "I'm in. If it costs the government, fine."