As the ALS ice bucket challenge becomes the hottest thing to pass through social media in recent memory, people from all walks of life have participated. One name that got attention Wednesday was former President George W. Bush.
The ALS ice bucket challenge is a way to raise awareness for the disease most commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease. The general summary of the challenge is that you can either dump a bucket of ice cold water over your head, or you have to donate $100 to an ALS research foundation. After being nominated himself, George W. Bush looked into the camera on Wednesday and stated, "To you all who challenged me, I do not think it's presidential for me to be splashed with ice water, so I'm simply going to write you a check." As Bush put his pen to the paper, his wife and former First Lady Laura Bush dumped a bucket of ice water over his head. Mrs. Bush then turned to the camera and remarked with, "That check is from me - I didn't want to ruin my hairstyle."
The irony of George W. Bush's ice bucket challenge is that its a reminder that as president, he allowed the United States to violate international law by allowing the use of torture through the process of waterboarding. In his 2010 memoir Decision Points, Bush admitted to using waterboarding as a form of extracting information from suspected terrorists. Bush claims that the waterboarding torture of terror suspect Abu Zubaydah helped lead to the capture of alleged 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
In his book, Bushed notes that Zubayhad's, "understanding of Islam was that he had to resist interrogation only up to a certain point. Waterboarding was the technique that allowed him to reach that threshold, fulfill his religious duty, and then cooperate." When the CIA asked Bush if they could use the procedure known as waterboarding, the former president simply said, "damn right."
Though George w. Bush and those close to his administration, such as former Vice President Dick Cheney, claim that waterboarding was a major asset in gathering information, other reports say otherwise. In March of 2014, a U.S. Senate investigation concluded that waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation" techniques did not lead to the capture of Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda members. In 2011, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld conflicted the statement made by Bush when he admitted that no waterboarding was done to anyone during that time.
"The United States Department of Defense did not do waterboarding for interrogation purposes to anyone. It is true that some information that came from normal interrogation approaches at Guantanamo did lead to information that was beneficial in this instance. But it was not harsh treatment and it was not waterboarding."
Regardless of who you stand by, the ALS ice bucket is a nice trend to move through social media, especially compared to others that have had their 15 minutes of fame. For more information about ALS and the ice bucket challenge, visit their official website here.