LONDON — Former U.S. president George W. Bush said in an interview published Tuesday that he personally authorized waterboarding the alleged 9/11 mastermind, who broke down and gave information that prevented terrorist attacks on London’s Heathrow airport and its Canary Wharf financial district.
Bush told the Times of London that he has no regrets about using the technique that many consider torture and that President Barack Obama has banned.
When asked whether he had authorized the simulated drowning of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Bush said, “Damn right.”
“Three people were waterboarded and I believe that decision saved lives,” he told the Times.
Bush elaborated on that situation in his new book, Decision Points.
“Their interrogations helped break up plots to attack American diplomatic facilities abroad, Heathrow Airport and Canary Wharf in London, and multiple targets in the United States,” Bush wrote.
Bush described his thinking when confronted with how to extract information from Mohammed, the self-professed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
“We felt he had the information about another attack. He says ‘I’ll talk to you when I get my lawyer.’ I say: ‘What options are available and legal?,”’ Bush was quoted by the paper as saying.
U.S. officials had said in 2006 that detainees had provided information on plots including attacks on Heathrow and Canary Wharf.
British officials at the time, however, questioned the account, suggesting the two locations were aspirational targets for terrorists rather than the subjects of actual plots.