A number of people have pointed to a comment Bush made in MI on Thursday about his role in approving torture. Here’s how CNN described it:
Bush spoke in broad strokes about how he proceeded after the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in March 2003.
"The first thing you do is ask, what’s legal?" he said. "What do the lawyers say is possible? I made the decision, within the law, to get information so I can say to myself, ‘I’ve done what it takes to do my duty to protect the American people.’ I can tell you that the information we got saved lives."
Here’s how Eartha Jane Meltzer from MI Messenger described it:
But the former president spoke indirectly of his administration’s authorization of the use of torture against detainees captured during the War on Terror, avoiding the words “torture” and “abuse.”
“You have to make tough decisions,” Bush said. “They’ve captured a guy who murdered 3,000 citizens … that affected me … They come in and say he may have more information …and we had an anthrax attack … and they say he may have more information. What do you do?“
Bush was firm and defended his record as president: “I will tell you that the information gained saved lives.”
And here’s how the Detroit Free Press described it:
Former President George W. Bush defended on Thursday his decision to allow harsh interrogation of the terrorist who ordered the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, saying it was cleared by his lawyers to prevent what his advisers believed was another, imminent attack.
"I made a decision within the law to get information so I can say, I’ve done what it takes to do my duty to protect the American people," he said. "I can tell you, the information gained saved lives."
Here’s how SW MI’s Herald-Palladium described it:
He defended his decision to authorize waterboarding on the 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
Now, I’m trying to get clarification on this point, particularly since Bush used to claim frequently that Abu Zubaydah ordered up 9/11, but between CNN and H-P, they seem to be clear that Bush was referring specifically to KSM, not AZ. [See updated below.]
If his reference to KSM was explicit, I find that very odd.
Why would Bush talk about the seminal moments in his tenure as President, and refer to approving the torture of the third guy we waterboarded, and not number one or number two? Wouldn’t the first approval of waterboarding be the most important?