Former President George W. Bush defended his controversial decisions earlier this decade to use harsh interrogation tactics against high-profile terror suspects.

Bush said during a speech Wednesday evening in Michigan that he would waterboard Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged 9/11 mastermind captured in 2002, if given the chance to make the decision again.

"Yeah, we water-boarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed," Bush told the audience at the Economic Club of Grand Rapids, as reported by the Grand Rapids Press. "I'd do it again to save lives."

The former president has rarely made public appearances since leaving the White House in early 2009. He's spent the past year and a half working on his memoirs, though he was drafted back into public service earlier this year to join with former President Bill Clinton to spearhead fundraising for relief efforts in earthquake-stricken Haiti.

The Bush administration's controversial approach to terror suspects was one of the most notable areas of policy in which President Barack Obama broke upon taking office.

The Justice Department, under Attorney General Eric Holder, for a time probed whether lawyers for Bush should have faced penalties or even criminal charges for having advised Bush that waterboarding and other tough interrogation tactics were legally permissible.

While Holder declined to pursue charges, some Democratic lawmakers have demanded more accountability for those practices about which Bush expressed no regret.