George W. Bush offhandedly admitted that his administration waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Muhammed:
"Yeah, we waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed," the former president told a business audience in Grand Rapids, Michigan. "I'd do it again to save lives."
Waterboarding is a simulated drowning technique that the Obama administration has said is torture. Mohammed was captured in Pakistan in 2003 and is the most senior al-Qaida operative in US custody.
Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003. This self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 claimed that he lied to the C.I.A. Retired Brigadier General David R. Irvine, former strategic intelligence officer, stated that waterboarding is "unequivocably torture" and refuted Bush's contention that he "saved lives" with it. In fact, Irvine stated, waterboarding endangered American lives, including our troops:
"As a nation, we have historically prosecuted it as such, going back to the time of the Spanish-American War," Irvine said. "Moreover, it cannot be demonstrated that any use of waterboarding by U.S. personnel in recent years has saved a single American life."
..."When he decided to do it the first time, he launched the nation down a disastrous road, and we will continue to pay dearly for the damage his decision has caused.
"We are seen by the rest of the world as having abandoned our commitment to international law. We have forfeited enormous amounts of moral leadership as the world's sole remaining superpower. And it puts American troops in greater danger -- and unnecessary danger."
James P. Cullen, retired brigadier general, agrees:
"This is not the last war we're going to fight," Cullen said. "Americans not yet born are going to be prisoners of war in those conflicts. And our enemies are going to be able to point back to President Bush and Vice President Cheney saying that waterboarding is OK.
"It's just shocking to me how [Bush] can be so flip about something that is so serious," Cullen said.