Bush book receives mixed reviews
Dallas - Autograph-seekers descended on a Dallas shopping centre on Tuesday as former President George W Bush officially kicked off the release of his new memoir, receiving praise for his candour at a hometown bookstore even as his renewed defence of waterboarding as an interrogation tactic was greeted with derision overseas.
In Europe, reports about Bush's memoir Decision Points focused on waterboarding.
In an interview in The Times of London, Bush said the tactic forced the supposed September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks mastermind to provide information that prevented attacks in London's Heathrow Airport and Canary Wharf business district. Prime Minister David Cameron's office subsequently restated the British government's belief that waterboarding is illegal. Kim Howells, a former lawmaker who chaired the House of Commons' intelligence and security committee, expressed doubts about Bush's claim.
In France, the Le Monde newspaper noted an "absence of regret" in Bush's defence of waterboarding.
In a more lighthearted moment, Bush said in an interview that aired on Tuesday on The Oprah Winfrey Show that writing the memoir "was an easy process".
"A lot of people don't think I can read, much less write," he joked.
As in the book, Bush also recounted to Winfrey the mistakes of his presidency, saying he still feels "sick" about the fact that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. His response to Hurricane Katrina could have been quicker, he said, and he acknowledged he didn't see the financial meltdown coming.
Bush, however, had nothing negative to say about President Barack Obama, whom Winfrey famously supported in 2008.
"I didn't like it when people criticised me," Bush said. "And so you're not going to see me out there chirping away (at Obama). And I want our president to succeed. I love our country."
Largely out of the public view since he left office, Bush is now vigorously promoting his book, with planned appearances across the country this week and as the Miami Book Fair International's featured author this weekend.
Bush even called in to conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh's radio program on Tuesday, voicing support for an extension of his administration's tax cuts and denying reports he privately criticised fellow Republican John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate. But when asked his opinion about Arizona's controversial immigration legislation, Bush told Limbaugh: "you're trying to get me to make news"
"I don't want to make news, I want to sell books of course," Bush said laughing.
His memoir does offer revelations though, including his confirmation that the target of a 2007 Israeli airstrike was a Syrian nuclear reactor and suggestion he quietly approved the action. Bush also reveals Israel first asked the US to bomb the site, but his administration refused.
In Israel, one of the few places Bush remained popular throughout his term, media coverage of the book focused on his warm praise for ex-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, support for Israel's tough crackdown on Palestinian militants in the last decade and animosity toward the late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat.