International critics of George W. Bush eye Surrey economic conference

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      An upcoming Surrey economic conference has caught the attention of critics of former U.S. president George W. Bush, one of the event's key speakers.

      Human rights groups, including the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, backed a recent plan to file criminal complaints in Switzerland against Bush.

      The complaints focused, in part, on Bush’s approval of controversial CIA interrogation techniques that included waterboarding, which simulates drowning.

      The Center for Constitutional Rights claims waterboarding is a form of torture. The group has cited the U.N. Convention Against Torture, an international treaty, in its push for potential prosecution.

      However, the plan to file the complaints, on behalf of alleged torture victims, was dropped when Bush abruptly cancelled his planned visit to Switzerland.

      But the human-rights groups have indicated they will keep a close eye on Bush’s future travel plans.

      Katherine Gallagher, a lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights, said her group is aware Bush is slated to speak at the annual Surrey Regional Economic Summit on October 20.

      “As we get closer to that date we will see what actions we’ll take,” Gallagher told the Straight by phone from New York.

      “I think we have to strategize and think that through with colleagues up in Canada,” she said. “It’s the next visit that we’ve heard about and we’re going to be following up and seeing what we know about it and preparing for it.”

      The City of Surrey could not be reached for comment.

      Surrey mayor Dianne Watts has said Bush and former U.S. president Bill Clinton—the other featured speaker—will appear at the 2011 summit to share their insights on economics, business, and geopolitics.

      “The Surrey Regional Economic Summit is an opportunity for us to learn more about major issues that impact our lives, our jobs and our cities,” Watts said in a statement on February 1.

      Since 2008, the Surrey conference has drawn high-profile speakers including former British prime minister Tony Blair and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.

      Bush has defended his approval of the controversial, post-9/11 CIA interrogation program.

      In particular, he has said he approved the use of waterboarding on individuals in U.S. custody.

      “No doubt the procedure was tough, but medical experts assured the CIA that it did no lasting harm,” Bush wrote in his recently published memoir, Decision Points.

      Bush wrote the interrogation program “saved lives”, adding that claims of unlawful torture at the hands of Americans were “not true”.

      You can follow Stephen Thomson on Twitter at



      DJ BALL

      Feb 9, 2011 at 11:23am

      The fact that an admitted torturer is being welcomed into my city by Diane Watts makes me f*****g sick to my stomach.
      Turning the other cheek on torture for your own political gain is disgusting and disgraces the sacrifice our grandparents made. Clinton is one thing but Bush ? Are you kidding me ?
      Canada loses big time by even allowing this piece of trash into the country.
      He should be denied entry or arrested on site.


      Feb 9, 2011 at 12:37pm

      Lets see there "W". Why don't we try some waterboarding on you? Then you can give us a first hand view of whether or not it's torture. I'm sure you'd to that in the name of posterity wouldn't you?


      Feb 9, 2011 at 1:26pm

      Silly people attacking the puppet and not the puppet master.
      FYI - Obama also condones waterboarding and who knows what else. But let me guess, because he's a blue puppet, it's ok because John Stewart told you so.

      How about waking up and taking on the puppet show itself? Or is that kind of 'change' too hard?

      DJ BALL

      Feb 9, 2011 at 3:12pm

      Letter i just sent to Dianes office......

      Dear Diane,

      I have just read about your invitation of George W Bush to speak at an economic forum in October.
      I was hoping it was satire but i've also read about international groups coming together to stop this from happening so i will assume it to be true.
      Over the years i've followed your career, you've done some really good things but this is not one of them.
      I would really like to know why you would feel the need to invite Mr Bush who is credibly accused of serious crimes.
      Is it that Mr Bush and Mr Clinton are a package now and you have to bring both ?
      This will probably be appreciated by some of your political allies but for everyone else i talk to they're at a loss on why you would invite such a economic failure to speak on a subject he knows nothing about.
      Why would you invite a man whose reckless policy's have brought great financial ruin to his country and the global economy ?
      Why would you invite a man credibly accused of torture and humans rights violations by numerous country's around the world ?
      Are you aware that this will stain our reputation around the planet ?
      How do i explain to my children that torturing innocent muslims and arabs doesn't matter ?
      How do i explain that my Mayor is turning the other cheek on the Geneva Conventions by welcoming a bonafide war criminal to collect a fat check ? while disgracing our reputation and moral standing while doing so ?

      Please Diane,

      i need some answers for my kids,

      what kind of excuse do you recommend i give them when they ask me why an admitted torturer is being welcomed into the city ?


      D.J Ball


      Feb 9, 2011 at 8:04pm

      This is disgusting. We had better organize a HUGE protest to let these murderers know they are not welcome in our city.


      Feb 9, 2011 at 10:56pm

      GWB's denial of torture is an outright lie. I watched many hearings re tortured victims. Some died. There was also a doc. on IFC many yrs ago re our insane CIA forcing countries to hold these victims. One had a rehab for the pple. Some CIA agents committed suicide. Imagine your kid wants to be cia. Thank Corp media for cheering this insanity.

      Michael Mahoney

      Mar 12, 2011 at 1:39pm

      Supporters of George Bush should be treated as George Bush treats people.

      Tony Hall

      Apr 26, 2011 at 10:23pm

      In inviting credibly accused war criminal, George W. Bush, to Surrey, Mayor Dianne Watts is equating her community with contempt for the rule of law. She is equating Surrey with the type of drug dealers, arm's merchants, and mercenary operations that thrived amidst the Bush crime syndicate.

      The Surrey mayor thus demonstrates that her idealization of "economic development" is in fact a mere cover for the proliferation of lawless violence protected by politicians in uniform that are able to pass themselves off with the help of corrupt media agents as legitimate law enforcement agencies. She has made Surrey a flash point for those who are no longer willing to tolerate the treatment of the most ruthless criminals of our time as if they are above the law.


      Anthony J. Hall
      Professor of Globalization Studies
      University of Lethbridge

      dan rose

      Sep 16, 2011 at 7:05pm

      alot of angry people with this W. I hope something stupid doesn"t happen!