George W. Bush says library 'a place to lay out facts'
Former president George W. Bush says his new presidential library is "a place to lay out facts," not a forum to explain policies such as the war with Iraq or his administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina's aftermath.
"There's no need to defend myself," Bush said in a phone interview with USA TODAY. "I did what I did and ultimately history will judge."
After keeping a low profile since leaving office in 2009, Bush is returning to the spotlight for Thursday's dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas.
He will be joined by President Obama and former presidents George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. The center on the campus of Southern Methodist University includes a library, museum and the George W. Bush Institute, a public policy center.
The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks are featured prominently in the museum, Bush says. "It's apparent that time is quickly dimming our memories" of that event, he says, "yet the lessons of 9/11 are as profound today as they were then." Among those lessons, he says: "Evil exists still in the form of people who murder innocent people to advance a point of view."
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The Iraq War, the 2007 troop surge there, the 2008 financial meltdown and the response to Katrina in 2005 are featured in an interactive exhibit called "decision points theater" where visitors can assess "the decisions that I had to make and the recommendations I received," he says.
When people try to debate him on decisions he made while in office, Bush says, he suggests that they read his 2010 memoir, Decision Points. "Get a sense of what I did and if you still disagree, I understand," he says he tells them.