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Friday, November 5, 2010

Bush Discusses Waterboarding, Other Decisions & Mistakes

Bush Says New Orleans Flyover After Katrina A "Huge Mistake"

Former President George W. Bush said he made a “huge mistake” in not stopping in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina and allowing photographers to take pictures of him looking at New Orleans as he flew over the city.

The photograph, taken on board Air Force One, made him look “detached and uncaring,” Bush said in an interview scheduled for broadcast on NBC next week in connection with the Nov. 9 release of the former president’s book, “Decision Points,” about his time in office.

Bush was widely criticized for the federal government’s botched response to the 2005 storm that devastated New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf of Mexico coast and for not going to the area soon after the hurricane hit.

“I should have touched down in Baton Rouge, met with the governor and walked out and said, ‘I hear you. We understand. And we’re going to help the state and help the local governments with as much resources as needed,’” Bush, 64, said according to excerpts from the interview with Matt Lauer scheduled to air at 8 p.m. New York time on Nov. 8.

In his book, Bush writes that a low point in his presidency was a remark by rapper Kanye West shortly after Katrina hit that the government’s response to the disaster showed Bush “doesn’t care about black people.”

“I faced a lot of criticism as president,” Bush wrote, according to the NBC excerpt. “I didn’t like hearing people claim that I lied about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction or cut taxes to benefit the rich. But the suggestion that I was racist because of the response to Katrina represented an all- time low.”

‘Not True’

In the interview Bush said, “I resent it, it’s not true, and it was one of the most disgusting moments in my presidency.”

The former president, who served two terms in office, defended his decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003, saying the world would be much more unstable if Saddam Hussein were still in power.

Bush began the U.S.-led attack on Iraq on March 19, 2003, because, he said, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein had scorned the United Nations’ 12 years of mandates to get rid of its chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction.

He wrote that he felt “sickened” when the U.S. found no weapons of mass destruction. In the interview, Bush said he never considered apologizing for the decision to go to war.

“Apologizing would basically say the decision was a wrong decision,” he said. “And I don’t believe it was the wrong decision.”

In the interview and in his memoir, Bush talked about his struggles with alcohol. Drinking “became a love,” he said, according to interview excerpts. “And therefore, began to compete for my love with my wife and my daughters.”

He said he was able to quit on his own because he was never “chemically addicted.” He described himself as a “habitual drinker” before stopping at the age of 40. He said he has not had “a sip” of alcohol since 1986.

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Sources:, MSNBC, National Geographic, Wikipedia, Youtube, Google Maps

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