British intelligence agencies were on Tuesday facing embarrassment after former U.S. President George W. Bush claimed that information extracted from terror suspects through torture helped in foiling plots to attack Heathrow airport and Canary Wharf, one of London’s major business centres.
They have consistently denied using intelligence obtained by torture. Downing Street insisted that it did not ``condone’’ torture. "We don't condone it [torture], nor do we ask others to do it on our behalf," a Downing Street spokesperson said.
In an interview with The Times to mark the launch of his memoirs, Decision Points, Mr Bush strongly defended the use of ``waterboarding’’— a coercive method of interrogation regarded as torture in international law -- to obtain information claiming that it saved lives by preventing attacks on ``multiple’’ targets in America and Britain.
He confirmed that three persons including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged al-Qaeda mastermind behind ``9/11’’, were subjected to ``waterboarding’’.
Asked whether he personally authorised its use, he replied: "Damn right! We capture the guy… 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?'"
In the book, Mr Bush writes: "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."
He admits that claims about Iraq’s weapons capability were based on ``false intelligence’’ and says he was ``sickened’’ when no weapons of mass destruction were found.
``The reality was that I had sent American troops into combat based in large part on intelligence that proved false. No one was more shocked than I was when we didn’t find the weapons. I had a sickening feeling everytime I thought about. I still do,’’ he writes.
He also confirms ordering the Pentagon to plan for a military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
``I directed the Pentagon to study what would be necessary for a strike,’’ he writes in a passage quoted in The Guardian adding:``This would be to stop the bomb clock, at least temporarily.’’