(From Carbonated TVs Editor's Desk)
Former President George W. Bush was recently on MSNBC with host Matt Lauer to launch his memoirs, Decision Points. He talked about some of the key decisions mentioned in the book, that he had made during his presidency.
The book contains key decisions that the 43rd President of United States of America took during his two terms in office. These included the starting of two wars on terror, using water-boarding, and responding to the natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina among many others.
On the issue of water-boarding, Bush said in the interview that after 9/11 they were desperate for information. And when the trigger man for Al Qaeda, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad was caught, the perception in the White House was that “He’s got information. Find out what he knows.”
A high profile target like KSM was not going to talk easily. So Bush consulted his legal team about the legality of water-boarding. “Are the techniques legal?” asked Bush and was told by his legal advisors that they were, Bush then subsequently gave his authorization for torture “Use ‘em.”
As pointed out by Lauer, the problem with the legal teams giving advice on constitutional issues like water-boarding was that according to Tom Kean, who co-chaired the 9/11 commission, all the legal opinions they wanted were from their “own people” and that Bush got the Department of Justice to get him the legal guidance and memos that he needed to do water-boarding.
Bush’s response to that was that he was told by his lawyers that the technique was legal and Tom Kean should read his memoirs to recollect how it really happened.
Lauer was not through with waterboarding yet and continued “.. If an American is taken into custody in a foreign country, not necessarily a uniformed . . “
Bush cut him short, noticeably agitated and uncomfortable with the thought that completed the question “I’m not gonna . . the issue, Matt… I, I really . . “ Lauer managed to complete his question “I’m just asking. Would it be okay for a foreign country to waterboard an American citizen?”
Bush was at a loss for words and noticeably disturbed. After thinking for a few seconds he managed to stammer “It’s all I ask is that people read the book. And they can reach the same conclusion. If they’d have made the same decision I made or not.” Lauer followed up with whether looking back he would have taken the same decision again? Bush replied in the affirmative.
The subject of torture however was not something that went away. It came back in 2004 when pictures were revealed of severe mistreatment of prisoners at the Abu Gharaib prison. Bush said that the pictures had made him sick to his stomach and that it was something that had disgraced the U.S. Military. Then Bush said something contentious – “I .. because I wasn’t aware of the graphic nature of the pictures until later on..”
Watch GWB on Matt Lauer here
MSNBC later that night ran an exclusive with former Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, who was in charge of the Abu Gharaib prison in Iraq in 2003 and contradicted what the President had written in his book and talked about on television. She claimed that Bush knew the policies that were taking effect in Abu Gharaib and that the people around him knew exactly what was going on. Either those aides did not bother sharing the information with Bush or that he did not want to hear of it, either way, he was aware of what was going on in the prison.
In 2004, when the photos from the prison finally leaked, the public outcry was so severe that the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld had to present his resignation to Bush. The resignation was rejected. Bush explained that they were in the middle of a war and there was no one else in sight suitable enough to replace ‘Don’ at that point.
Karpinski said that General Miller, who was in charge at Guantanamo Bay, was sent to Iraq by Donald Rumsfeld to alter the interrogation procedures with the experience gained using techniques with contractors in Cuba. In 2003, when the prison was under her command, the procedures being followed at the prison were to ask the prisoners a set of questions regarding WMDs, as accorded by law. That soon changed after General Miller’s visit and the prison was given under the command of Military Intelligence.
Watch Karpinski’s interview below.
After staying largely mum on the political scene since leaving office almost two years ago, former President George W. Bush will reveal his thoughts on the most historic -- and controversial -- parts of his presidency with the release of his memoir Tuesday.
In the 481-page book, Bush shares his thoughts on the 9/11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina and what he calls the ""worst moment"" of his presidency.
The 43rd president also takes responsibility for giving the go-ahead for waterboarding terror suspects, which has touched off a new round of criticism of Bush and calls for his prosecution. He says that he decided not to use two more extreme interrogation methods, but did not disclose what those were.
In the book, Bush says the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, gave his administration a clear goal and him the resolve to find out who was responsible and ""kick their ass.""
""In a single morning, the purpose of my presidency had grown clear: to protect our people and defend our freedom that had come under attack,"" he writes.