Bush Addresses 9/11 Policy Controversies in Memoir

In the NY Times Charlie Savage describes how Bush’s forthcoming memoir covers, among other topics, five areas that address Mr. Bush’s use of presidential powers and his view of executive authority, including the 9/11 shoot down order, approving enhanced interrogation techniques and warrantless wiretapping.

On interrogations and accountability Bush wrote:

I knew that an interrogation program this sensitive and controversial would one day become public. When it did, we would open ourselves up to criticism that America had compromised its moral values. I would have preferred that we get the information another way. But the choice between security and values was real.

I have been troubled by the blowback against the intelligence community  and Justice Department for their role in the surveillance and  interrogation programs. … Legal officials in my administration did  their best to resolve complex issues in a time of extraordinary danger  to our country. Their successors are entitled to disagree with their  conclusions. But criminalizing differences of legal opinion would set a  terrible precedent for our democracy.

In retrospect, I probably could have avoided some of the controversy and legal setbacks by seeking legislation” regarding military tribunals,  the wireless wiretapping program and interrogation techniques at the  time those programs and policies were put in place, Mr. Bush wrote. “If  members of Congress had been required to make their decision at the same time I did – in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 – I am confident they  would have overwhelmingly approved everything we requested,” he wrote,  adding, however, that in some cases he would not have wanted to risk  exposure of operational details “until we had a better handle on the  security situation.

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