Former US President George W. Bush personally allowed the use of “waterboarding“ torture on terror suspects and claims lives were saved as a result.
In his recent memoir, Decision Points, Bush admitted that he gave the go-ahead to CIA officers to perform the interrogation technique – which simulates drowning – on self-confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
“Damn right!“ the BBC cites Bush as saying to British newspaper The Times.
“We capture the guy, the chief operating officer of al-Qaeda, who kills 3,000 people. We felt he had the information about another attack.
“He says, ‘I’ll talk to you when I get my lawyer’. I say, ‘What options are available and legal?'”
However, the question of whether the technique is legal or not is a murky one.
According to the AFP, legal adviser at the US State Department, Harold Koh, said after a UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva that “there has been a turning of the page” under the country’s new President, Barack Obama.
“I think that the Obama administration defines waterboarding as torture as a matter of law under the convention against torture and as part of our legal obligation… it’s not a policy choice,” Koh told journalists after being asked about the report.
And is Bush exposing himself to potential prosecution by being so open in his memoirs? Various sources claim that this is unlikely. As for those who were responsible for carrying out the torture – they too will be spared. Obama changed the policy on his second day in office and added in 2009 that previously involved individuals would be let off as they were acting on orders and were defending their country, the AFP reports.
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.”
CNN cites the 64-year-old’s description of his reaction when then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice told him that a third plane had crashed into the Pentagon: “I sat back in my seat and absorbed her words. My thoughts clarified: The first plane could have been an accident. The second was definitely an attack. The third was a declaration of war.
“My blood was boiling. We were going to find out who did this, and kick their ass.”
He added: “CIA experts drew up a list of interrogation techniques. … At my direction, Department of Justice and CIA lawyers conducted a careful legal review. The enhanced interrogation program complied with the Constitution and all applicable laws, including those that ban torture.
“There were two that I felt went too far, even if they were legal. I directed the CIA not to use them. Another technique was waterboarding, a process of simulated drowning. No doubt the procedure was tough, but medical experts assured the CIA that it did no lasting harm.”
Click here to read about aquaphobia – the fear of water.
Images: The White House and Wikimedia Commons