TODAY   |  November 04, 2010

Bush: Waterboarding, surveillance ‘necessary’

In his first TV interview since leaving office, former President George W. Bush tells TODAY’s Matt Lauer that he did whatever it took to protect this country following the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

Here's something else from the book: " September 11th redefined sacrifice, it redefined duty and it would redefine my job. I could never forget what happened to America that day. I would pour my heart and soul into protecting this country, whatever it took."

Former President GEORGE W. BUSH: Yeah.

LAUER: It took two wars.

Pres. BUSH: Yeah.

LAUER: It took thousands of lives, American lives, billions of dollars. You could say it took Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib .

Pres. BUSH: Yeah.

LAUER: And government eavesdropping and waterboarding. Did it take too much?

Pres. BUSH: We didn't have an attack. Three thousand people died on September the 11th. And I vowed that I would do my duty to protect the American people , and they didn't hit us again. Time dulls memory, and I understand that. But it didn't dull my memory because I was charged with protecting America . And those decisions I made were necessary.

MEREDITH VIEIRA, co-host: Hm.

LAUER: Seven-thirty now on a Thursday morning. It's the fourth of November, 2010 . That, of course, former President George W. Bush opening up in his first interview since leaving the White House . I'm Matt Lauer alongside Meredith Vieira . And there's a lot more of that interview on a wide variety of subjects coming up on Monday night as we have a special interview, a prime-time interview, at 8, 7 Central time right here on NBC .

VIEIRA: Then he's going to join us, as well, right?

LAUER: That's right . A couple of days later on Wednesday, November 10th , President Bush will join us live in our studio. So we'll get to continue our conversation. We're looking forward to that very much.