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Bush, in memoir, says he approved waterboarding: report

Former US president George W. Bush says in his new memoir he personally gave the go-ahead for CIA officers to waterboard self-confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, according to today's Washington Post.

world Updated: Nov 04, 2010 18:03 IST

Former US president George W. Bush says in his new memoir he personally gave the go-ahead for CIA officers to waterboard self-confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, according to Thursday's Washington Post.

"Damn right," Bush said when asked by the Central Intelligence Agency whether they should employ the coercive and controversial interrogation technique against the terror suspect, the Post reported, citing an unnamed person who has read the book.

The memoir, "Decision Points," is due out next week.

Bush states he believed Mohammed was holding vital information about pending terror plots against the United States, and that the president would make the same decision again on simulated drowning of detainees if it meant saving American lives, according to the report.

Shortly after taking office in early 2009, Bush's successor President Barack Obama and his new Attorney General Eric Holder described waterboarding -- introduced by the Bush administration during its "war on terror" -- as an act of torture.

The CIA employed the technique, which involves pouring water on someone's face while he is bound to a board, on Mohammed and at least two other detainees in 2003, including Abu Zubaydah, the agency's first high-value Al-Qaeda detainee.

Last year in a detailed timeline of the interrogations, the Senate Intelligence Committee said the CIA first sought to use what Bush described as "enhanced" interrogation techniques including waterboarding in May 2002, after attorney general John Ashcroft concluded that waterboarding was lawful.

Some human rights experts told the Washington Post that Bush's memoir acknowledgement could theoretically expose him to prosecution, as it is seen by legal experts as a crime, but that such legal action was unlikely.

Obama said in 2009 that operatives who carried out the interrogations would not be prosecuted, saying they acted on orders and were defending their country.

According to the New York Times, Bush also disclosed in his book that one of the low points of his presidency was hearing superstar rapper Kanye West's accusation after Hurricane Katrina that "George Bush doesn't care about black people."