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Bush Defends Gitmo, Knocks Health Care Plans

(AP/Keith Srakocic)
Former President George W. Bush on Wednesday took aim at President Obama's health care goals and economic agenda, praising the free market, according to reports. The former president, speaking at a local business meeting in Pennsylvania, also defended his administration's controversial interrogation policies.

"The way I decided to address the problem was twofold: One, use every technique and tool within the law to bring terrorists to justice before they strike again," Mr. Bush said, according to the Washington Times.

The former president said he would not directly criticize Mr. Obama -- an assertion he has made before -- but he had some choice words with respect to Mr. Obama's plans to close the Guantanamo Bay prison.

"I told you I'm not going to criticize my successor," he said. "I'll just tell you that there are people at Gitmo that will kill American people at a drop of a hat and I don't believe that -- persuasion isn't going to work. Therapy isn't going to cause terrorists to change their mind."

In his second major U.S. address in the United States after leaving the White House, Mr. Bush expressed more direct opposition to the currrent president's economic and health care agenda.

"There are a lot of ways to remedy the situation without nationalizing health care," Mr. Bush said. "I worry about encouraging the government to replace the private sector when it comes to providing insurance for health care."

He also said the private sector, not the government, would lead the country out of the recession.

"Government does not create wealth," Mr. Bush said. "The major role for the government is to create an environment where people take risks to expand the job rate in the United States."

Still, he defended his decision to provide aid to the banking industry in the last days of his presidency.

"I did not want there to be bread lines, to be a great depression," he said.

Mr. Bush stopped short of calling Mr. Obama's presidency "socialist," when asked if he thought that was a fitting term for the Obama administration.

"I hear a lot of those words, but it depends on --" he said, breaking off. "We'll see," he added.

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