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Unapologetic Bush tries to rewrite history

By OLIVIER KNOX
November 10, 2010

(AFP)

An emotional but unapologetic George W. Bush opened up about his tumultuous presidency Tuesday as he released memoirs in which he defiantly defends the Iraq invasion and the use of waterboarding.

“I felt so strongly about the decisions I was making and I felt that history would understand,” Bush, who left office deeply unpopular at home and abroad, said during an hour-long interview with US talk show queen Oprah Winfrey.

The former president, who dubbed himself “the decider” during his eight years in the White House, takes readers of his 500-page “Decision Points” on a backstage tour of his administration and confronts his bitterest critics.

Bush acknowledges errors on Iraq, saying cutting US troop levels too quickly after the March 2003 invasion allowed deadly chaos to spread, but says he was blindsided by the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal and the failure to find the weapons of mass destruction at the heart of his case for war.

“No one was more shocked or angry than I was when we didn’t find the weapons. I had a sickening feeling every time I thought about it. I still do,” writes the former president.

Bush describes how he personally ordered the waterboarding of the confessed mastermind of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, with a resounding “damn right” when CIA officials asked whether they could use the controlled drowning technique in a bid to break him.

But he says that senior US government lawyers greenlighted the tactic — which experts say falls under international definitions of torture — and calls it “insulting and wrong” to say interrogators broke US law.

He also insists the technique yielded valuable, life-saving information, a claim doubted by outside experts and even the CIA Inspector General, who said the effectiveness of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” cannot be measured, and reports that traditional measures may be more potent.

And in response to his comment, human rights group Amnesty International renewed its call for Bush to be investigated and possibly prosecuted.

“Decision Points” appeared one week after Bush’s Republicans routed Democrats in November 2 elections, capping a hard-fought recovery following ballot-box drubbings in 2006 and 2008, when Barack Obama took the White House.

Bush, who has kept largely out of the public eye since leaving office in January 2009, told Winfrey he never paid much mind to his critics or his standing in public opinion.

“One of my proudest accomplishments was I wouldn’t sell my soul for the sake of popularity,” Bush said, adding that while the criticism may have hurt his family, it never hurt him.

“If I’d allowed the critics to affect me during he presidency — the name calling and stuff — I don’t think I’d have done my job as a leader.”

As he does in the book, Bush told Winfrey that he does not regret the war to topple Saddam Hussein, stressing “the world’s better with him gone.”

Bush also acknowledged that “we could have done a much better job” during the 2005 Hurricane Katrina crisis, when he drew heavy fire for surveying the damage from the air on a fly-over from Texas to Washington.

That was a “huge mistake” because it made him seem “uncaring,” but landing would have diverted key resources from the rescue efforts,” said Bush, who has blasted singer Kanye West for his comment at the time that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” the majority population in flooded New Orleans.

“I can see how the perception might be maybe Bush didn’t care. But to accuse me of being a racist is disgusting,” said the former president.

As he embarked on his book tour, the Gallup polling organization found that Bush had a 44 percent favorable and 53 percent unfavorable rating from the US public, up slightly from his 40 percent favorable rating when he left office but well off his nearly 90 percent approval after the September 11th attacks.

The former president’s book is expected to have a first run of 1.5 million copies, along with an e-book version containing a video message from the former president and his home movies, Crown publishers said earlier this month.

The huge print run is equivalent to that for former Democratic president Bill Clinton’s book, “My Life,” which was a runaway hit.

Copyright © 2010 AFP

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18 Responses to Unapologetic Bush tries to rewrite history

  1. bmclellan

    November 10, 2010 at 10:16 am

    I’m going to name my cat Georgie Bush Jr.
    She just took a crap in my neighbors yard and tried unsuccessfully to cover it up.

    • Sandune

      November 10, 2010 at 1:21 pm

      Brian, I bought the book and will comment on the lies he has told to the American people. I followed his comments at the time before and after 911 and came to the conclusion he was mentally a very sick man. The book is to clear up his legacy for the history readers of the future. The book will never remove the stain he left on all Americans.

      S

  2. bmclellan

    November 10, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Hello Sandune. I see this sick revisionist effort as an in your face to all Americans and in particular, Veterans and their families.
    The scope of this mans audacity and vacuous brain stretches far beyond the boundaries of the universe where tact and honesty are fleeting.
    I will not accept the stain as it is his and his alone..

    P.S. Happy 235th Birthday United States Marines.

  3. woody188

    November 10, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    The admissions of guilt in this memoir alone should land this man in prison. Do we have a system of laws, or a system of men?

    “No one was more shocked or angry than I was when we didn’t find the weapons. I had a sickening feeling every time I thought about it. I still do,” writes the former president.

    LIAR

  4. bogofree

    November 10, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    He sounded as pathetic as Jimmy Carter did a few weeks ago.

  5. Sandune

    November 10, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    The only way to guarantee that this corruption from the GOP can never exist again is for another Party to be formed based on individual freedoms for all Americans and an agenda based on the Constitution. The GOP based on the current Agenda overlooked the individual rights and freedoms and wanted instead to have a government that “looked” like the majority of Americans.

    Our Supreme Court should have stopped the White House from acting out a war against Islam to clean the world of those who were not Christians nor Jews. Why bother with the S.C. if they are unable to stop the dreaded actions of the White House. In my world, it started with Bush 41 who wrote the original global treaties like NAFTA. He lost his bid for re-election in 1992 but it was accepted by President Clinton and our jobs were swooped off shore just as Perot predicted.

    Just imagine a third party based on allowing Americans to create jobs and keep them on American ground. Base the new party on taxing all products made off shore. Dylan Ratigan mentioned the 6 major corporations who run America through the government. I can only guess at those corporations but they must be compromised to develop jobs if they continue their power on all of us

    Our 2 party system battles on social issues and it puzzles other nations about why so many Americans are shunned and beaten in our cities. All Americans must share equal freedoms and only a third party can guarantee this movement. How we do it would be an enormous effort but easily a third of American voters would be more than interested. Look at the numbers of Independents who want nothing to do with the left or right.

    This Independent mass has nothing to work for and are waiting for leadership. I’m too old and more than tired of politics that I have seen decay in all our elections. Americans are great and want freedom for all who call themselves Americans. We are not a single race and we are not worshipping a single god and our Constitution guarantees this freedom.

    S

    • griff

      November 11, 2010 at 12:35 am

      Um, that sounds a lot like the Libertarian Party. They’ve been around a while. No one votes for them.

      Individual liberty and self-determination, true free markets and sound money, personal and social responsibility, true patriotism (not blind party loyalty or the misguided imperialist patriotism we have today), equality under the law (so-called blind justice), and the rights of individuals, is considered extreme by today’s political standards.

      The media is equally as guilty as the two parties in completely ignoring any school of thought outside the accepted mainstream party orthodoxy. We’re stuck in the two party shuffle, and without the widespread dissemination of any thing even remotely resembling truth, without the average television-induced zombie voter being exposed to any viable alternatives in philosophy or doctrine, we’ll be stuck in this dance of death and destruction until this country wastes itself.

      • Sandune

        November 11, 2010 at 11:12 am

        Correct griff. I have cut back my demands to one single issue and that it to keep the social issues out of the discussions of the candidates. I know where these issues come from and I know that they will always be personal decisions. I’m sick of the beatings found in neighborhoods who are racist homophobes and to see this made from ignorant bullies is ridiculous. When the GOP can run on prolife, white, Christians is sad and when they win, it is a tragedy. I speak to many Independents who are tired of the moral corruption found in the current two parties, it is time again to bring the social issues dropped from campaigns and fund raisers. The social issues will (should) destroy the Tea Party Candidates.

        All I can do is ask whether Sarah Palin should be the next President of the United States?

        • griff

          November 12, 2010 at 8:29 pm

          I had no idea until now that it’s you, Sandy. I’ll bite, just this once.

          Um, to answer your last question first – absolutely not.

          Both parties are guilty of keeping the social issues at the forefront, particularly in election years, because it evokes an emotional response. It’s what drives their respective bases to the polls; the Christians on the right and the collectivist “social justice” liberals on the left.

          Where you and I differ, I guess, is that I blame the liberals equally for this. It doesn’t color my support of some one on other issues, mainly because I know that it’s just rhetoric. I know neither party has any interest in solving these “problems” because they represent a distraction from really important issues and keep the busy-bodies salivating at the polls, election cycle after election cycle.

          I have no problem with a Christian, Muslim, Atheist, or Space Alien running for office, so long as they follow the Constitution. Okay, maybe not the Space Alien. We’d have to do some serious vetting. More than the media did with Obama, any way.

          Gay rights, women’s rights, Hispanic rights, all these represent a collectivist view that is anathema to the Constitution and Bill of Rights, not to mention the Declaration of Independence.

          Individual rights, not group rights. Equal rights. There should be absolutely no need for a movement or arguments for or against gay rights or women’s rights, or any other group-based rights, because it divides us based on a group identity.

          It fuels the fires of partisan animosity, turns otherwise agreeable people into frothing lunatics. There will always be those that are bigoted or racist. It’s the nature of man. I think that without the political spotlight being shone constantly on these issues we’d actually be a lot further along than we are.

        • griff

          November 12, 2010 at 9:01 pm

          You may be familiar with Leonard Read?

          “It is incorrect to think of liberty as synonymous with unrestrained action. Liberty does not and cannot include any action, regardless of sponsorship, which lessens the liberty of a single human being. To argue contrarily is to claim that liberty can be composed of liberty negations, patently absurd. Unrestraint carried to the point of impairing the liberty of others is the exercise of license, not liberty. To minimize the exercise of license is to maximize the area of liberty. Ideally, government would restrain license, not indulge in it; make it difficult, not easy; disgraceful, not popular. A government that does otherwise is licentious, not liberal.”

  6. Carl Nemo

    November 11, 2010 at 1:01 am

    “without the average television-induced zombie voter being exposed to any viable alternatives in philosophy or doctrine, we’ll be stuck in this dance of death and destruction until this country wastes itself” …extract from post

    Good thoughts Griff. How about an alternative to our Republican form of government thought by many to be a “democracy” which it’s not; to that of an old fashioned, down home in our face form of Socialism/Communism.

    Since people don’t care to think for themselves, to research history etc., maybe its better that they are simply given their daily marching orders as long as they have jobs or ‘not’, can shop until they drop and watch sports and trivial “boob tube” programming to their hearts content. “We the Sheep” seemingly don’t want no “stinkin freedom”, Constitution, Bill of Rights, Federalist papers, self-determination or other such nonsense.

    A bellyful of junk food or seemingly ‘good food’ laced with additives, the games, endless access to vapid TV programming etc. laced with a liberal dose of drugs and sex seemingly is more than enough to sate their now bovine, collective consciousness. / : |

    Carl Nemo **==

    • griff

      November 12, 2010 at 9:00 pm

      Okay Carl, you lost me on the drugs and sex thing. Ha. A guy’s gotta have a little fun now and again.

      As you probably know, I believe there is no better form of government than the one we were given. All others have been tried, and all others have failed. This one will fail as well, not because of its original design, but because we’ve failed to abide by it.

      The only alternative I see is neither a new form of government nor a “progressive” reworking of the one we have, but a hard reboot of the original, in both practice and philosophy.

      “In every society there are persons who have the intelligence to figure out the requirements of liberty and the character to walk in its ways. This is a scattered fellowship of individuals- mostly unknown to you or me- bound together by a love of ideas and a hunger to know the plain truth of things.” – Leonard Read

  7. Sandune

    November 11, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Carl, offer the sheep some simple issues to work for.

    S

    • Almandine

      November 11, 2010 at 11:19 am

      Let’s see… 47% of US citizens are on the dole without paying federal taxes. Now just exactly what, other than a pay raise, would interest them?

    • Carl Nemo

      November 11, 2010 at 12:10 pm

      There is to be no redemption or solutions Sandune.

      We’re soon to enter a period where it’s going to be every man, woman, child and wharf rat fending for themselves There won’t be any check in the mail or via auto-deposit and for sure the end of political parties, voting and other societal excercises in futility. Our terminally corrupt leadership has sown the wind; unfortunately we are all going to reap the mighty whirlwind as a function of having fallen asleep at the wheel of life.

      No doubt you’ve read my commentary and suggestions over time. I’ve run out of ideas, but I’ll repost my September 2008 blog post to this site, which was my first.

      http://www.capitolhillblue.com/node/11316

      I believe then you posted as Malibu ‘Malcolm’ Ms. Price …”This may be the most important blog I’ve ever read. I hope others can add to it. Thank you!” …Malcolm

      Carl Nemo **==

      • griff

        November 12, 2010 at 7:38 pm

        My money’s on the wharf rats, Carl.

  8. Carl Nemo

    November 12, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    Thanks griff for the inspiring Leonard Read quote. : ) Hopefully you and I are one as Spock would say, concerning the “Vulcan Mind Meld” regardless of my major “brain fart” concerning the casting of my vote for Obama. / : (

    “Okay Carl, you lost me on the drugs and sex thing. Ha. A guy’s gotta have a little fun now and again.” …extract from reply

    My apologies, sometimes I get a bit carried away when I write my possibly bloated tomes to this site. We’ll forego the “sex and drugs” reference as simply providing “impact” to my post, but no doubt will be disregarded even if society collapses. There’s nothing quite like imbibing in that which both forbidden and refreshing…no? : D

    Nemo **==

    • griff

      November 13, 2010 at 10:32 am

      No Carl, I would have to agree with the overall sentiment of your comment as it pertains to our societal degradation. And stop beating yourself up over Obama. I’ve forgiven you.