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Bush denounced over waterboarding

Human rights campaigners have denounced former US president George Bush's defence of "waterboarding" which he claimed had helped save lives in Britain.

In his memoirs, Mr Bush said information gained from use of the controversial interrogation technique - which simulates drowning - had helped to break up terrorist plots to attack Heathrow Airport and Canary Wharf.

But critics said a decision by the Republican former president to sanction the waterboarding of terrorist suspects had fuelled extremism. They said the use of torture drained a "vast reservoir" of goodwill towards the United States in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: "After the atrocity of 9/11, the American president could have united the world against terrorism and towards the rule of law. Instead, President Bush led a great democracy into the swamp of lies, war and torture in freedom's name. Democracy can do better and, learning from the past, it will."

Clive Stafford Smith, of Reprieve, poked fun at Mr Bush's declaration that it was "damn right" to say he gave waterboarding the green light.

He said: "He also boasts of secret, unverifiable benefits he achieved through torture, that only he may know, and the rest of us should take on faith.

"The rest of us know, though, that - damn right - Bush authorised the torture of Ibn Sheikh al Libi, who then 'revealed' a link between Saddam Hussein, al Qaida and WMD.

"We also know that when Bush said this was a reason to go to war, he was making an enormous mistake, causing the endless bloodshed that followed. By authorising torture, president Bush made the world an infinitely more dangerous place.

"US torture spread like a virus, from the CIA to Abu Ghraib, and became the greatest recruiting sergeant for extremism.

"A vast reservoir of goodwill towards the US following 9/11 was drained in record time."

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