November 11, 2010

Bush incriminates himself in new book


George W. Bush signing his book and waving

George W. Bush, torn between signing his book and waving, waves

Amnesty International has declared that “The United States must prosecute former President George W. Bush for torture if his admission in a memoir that he authorized waterboarding holds true,” according to a Reuters wire story.

Bush has been touring the country in support of his book Decision Points, which was published this week to decent although not Sarah Palin-sensational early sales, but maybe even more renewed controversy.  According to Reuters:

Bush defended his decision to authorize waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning condemned by some as torture.

Bush said the practice was limited to three detainees and led to intelligence breakthroughs that thwarted attacks and saved lives. He told NBC in an interview to publicize the book that his legal adviser had told him it did “not fall within the anti-torture act.”

But, says Claudio Cordone, Amnesty International’s Senior Director, “Under international law, anyone involved in torture must be brought to justice, and that does not exclude former President George W. Bush.” According to Cordone, “If his admission is substantiated, the U.S.A. has the obligation to prosecute him. In the absence of a U.S. investigation, other states must step in and carry out such an investigation themselves.”

Reuters summarized the incriminating passages:

Bush wrote that waterboarding was first approved for Abu Zubaydah, an al Qaeda figure arrested in Pakistan in 2002 who was suspected of involvement in a plot to attack Los Angeles International Airport.

When Abu Zubaydah stopped answering questions from the FBI, CIA Director George Tenet told Bush he thought the detainee had more information to offer.

Bush wrote that there were two techniques, which he did not describe, that he felt went too far even though they were legal and he ordered that they not be used. But he approved the use of waterboarding.

“No doubt the procedure was tough, but medical experts assured the CIA that it did no lasting harm,” he wrote.

Waterboarding has since been banned by now-President Barack Obama, shortly after he took office in 2009.

Valerie Merians is the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.