Bush defends Iraq invasion in first interview since presidency
In the first interview of his post-presidency, George W Bush said he was angered when US-led coalition forces failed to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but stood by the decision to invade the country to get rid of Saddam Hussein, dpa reported.
Bush appeared on television Monday night on the eve of the publication of his memoir, Decision Points, and told NBC's Matt Lauer in a taped interview that it's "a very hypothetical question" to ask whether he would have, knowing what he now does, proceeded with the invasion.
"I will say definitely the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power, as are 25 million people who now have a chance to live in freedom," Bush said. He added that as president one doesn't have the "luxury" of looking back in time.
Decision Points, due in US bookstores Tuesday, reflects on his life and eight years in the White House, covering topics ranging from stopping drinking, his emotional reaction to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Iraq, and the controversial policy to employ harsh interrogation techniques on terrorist suspects.
Bush has stayed in the shadows since he left in White House in January 2009, unpopular in the United States and abroad. He has made some appearances at business conventions and teamed up with Bill Clinton to raise money for Haiti following the January earthquake.
The interview was the first of several to kick off the launch of the book. He also plans a book tour to promote the memoir.
In the book, Bush argues that he believed harsh techniques were required to coerce suspected terrorists into divulging information about potential attacks. He recalls telling the CIA "damn right" when his authorization was sought to waterboard Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the admitted mastermind of the September 11 attacks.