MSNBC's Cenk Uygur Claims George W. Bush Confessed to 'War Crimes' in New Memoir

In an attempt to re-litigate the past, MSNBC contributor Cenk Uygur indicted former President George W. Bush for war crimes.

Bellowing today from his regular perch on late afternon Dylan Ratigan Show, Uygur mischaracterized the 43rd President's position on the waterboarding of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as "go ahead and torture him basically" before demanding that Bush be prosecuted for allegedly violating Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.

"Now it seems to me we have a confession here of a war crime and a clear violation of international and United States law," proclaimed Uygur. "President George W. Bush should go to jail for at least 10 years."

The alleged "confession" Uygur referred to is an excerpt from Bush's new memoir, Decision Points, in which the former commander-in-chief reaffirms his decision to condone the use of waterboarding as an enhanced-interrogation technique for suspected terrorists.

Despite Uygur's impression that the classification of waterboarding as torture is settled law, some observers argue that the form of waterboarding used by CIA interrogators on KSM was not severe enough to be considered torture:


In waterboarding as it is practiced by the U.S., cellophane or cloth is placed over the subject's mouth to keep water out of nose and mouth. Asano (Japanese soldier convicted of war crimes in WWII) was pouring water directly into the mouths and noses of subjects which is considerably more harsh and dangerous.

There was even disagreement within the Obama administration over the legal status of waterboarding. Dennis Blair, a retired Navy admiral and former Obama spy chief, refused to call waterboarding torture in his Senate confirmation hearings. Additionally, the present administration has repeatedly dismissed calls to prosecute Bush officials for war crimes.

But there was no deterring the raging "Young Turk," who lambasted an Obama administration "that only wants to look forward and never backward to crimes that were actually committed."

A transcript of the segment can be found below:


The Dylan Ratigan Show

November 4, 2010

4:55 P.M. EDT

DYLAN RATIGAN: Alright, forget those two wars, the complete collapse of our financial system, or even 9/11. In George W. Bush's soon to be released memoir, it describes the following as the worst moment of his presidency.

MIKE MYERS (2005): The destruction of the spirit of the people of Southern Louisiana and Mississippi may not be the most tragic loss of all.

KANYE WEST (2005): George Bush doesn't care about black people.

RATIGAN: The Young Turk, Cenk Uygur, back with some of the headlines you might not have seen about the Bush 43 memoirs.

CENK UYGUR, MSNBC contributor: That's always a wonderfully awkward moment. But apparently it really got to Bush. He said in his book, and I quote here, "I faced a lot of criticism as president. 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."

So let me get this right. We went to Iraq based on false premises. Whether he lied about it or not, there were no weapons of mass destruction. That war was just wrong. And what happened in that war? 4,427 United States troops killed, but that wasn't an all-time low. There were 66,000 civilians killed at least - Iraqi civilians - but that wasn't an all-time low. There was 1,836 people killed in Hurricane Katrina, but that wasn't an all-time low. By the way, there was 8 million jobs lost because of the recession he created, the Great Recession, but that wasn't an all-time low. By the way also, there was a little thing called 9/11 on Bush's watch, and that wasn't an all-time low.

But Kanye dissed you and that was your all-time low? Oh no, Kanye doesn't like you! Did your feelings get hurt, George? You know what George Bush said when the CIA gave him a memo while he was on vacation, as usual, in Crawford? It said "we're going to get attacked by al-Qaeda in New York. He said "All right. You've covered your ass now." And he went back on vacation. And then we lost all those people on 9/11. But that wasn't an all-time low. Kanye dissed him, that was a low.

Now that isn't even the most startling part of the book. He also admits to a war crime. He said, when they asked him, "hey, should we waterboard Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?" He admits it. In the book, he says I told them "Damn right." Go ahead and torture him basically. Now is waterboarding really a war crime? Well, it's against the Geneva Conventions, which is international law, which we signed. And when we sign it it becomes supreme law of the land here in the United States of America. But that's not just theoretical, we've prosecuted people for waterboarding before. We'll get to that in a second. But let's see what the generals think. General - one of our top generals is going to talk to Carl Levin here while Bush was still president, mind you? Here's his testimony.

Sen. CARL LEVIN (D-MI): General, do you believe that waterboarding is consistent with Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions?


LEVIN: Do you think it's humane?

GENERAL: No sir, I think it would go beyond that bound.

UYGUR: He's not alone in thinking that, here are the prosecutions we've done for waterboarding in this country. After the Spanish-American War, US soldiers were court-martialed. After World War II, Japanese soldiers were convicted for waterboarding, a violation of our laws. In 1983, a Texas sheriff was sentenced to 10 years in prison for waterboarding. Now it seems to me we have a confession here of a war crime and a clear violation of international and United States law. President George W. Bush should go to jail for at least 10 years. Will that happen? Not with an administration that only wants to look forward and never backward to crimes that were actually committed.

- Alex Fitzsimmons is an intern for the Media Research Center