The Bush-McCain Torture Bill
Thus Blogged Anderson.: Japanese war crime = American interrogation tactic: Walter Pincus writes about half of the story on waterboarding that we should've seen two or three weeks ago. Nice of the WaPo to get a little curious:
Twenty-one years earlier, in 1947, the United States charged a Japanese officer, Yukio Asano, with war crimes for carrying out another form of waterboarding on a U.S. civilian. The subject was strapped on a stretcher that was tilted so that his feet were in the air and head near the floor, and small amounts of water were poured over his face, leaving him gasping for air until he agreed to talk.
"Asano was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor," Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) told his colleagues last Thursday during the debate on military commissions legislation. "We punished people with 15 years of hard labor when waterboarding was used against Americans in World War II," he said.
Yes, that bit was certainly all over the news when the bill was actually being debated, wasn't it? Or not.
The article could go into much, much more detail on how waterboarding was used by the Gestapo, the NKVD/KGB, the Khmer Rouge ... there is a bit on how it's better at getting people to "talk" than to provide reliable intel:
Inside the CIA, waterboarding is cited as the technique that got Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the prime plotter of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, to begin to talk and provide information -- though "not all of it reliable," a former senior intelligence official said."Not all"? Could we have a fraction, maybe? Or is that classified?
Jack Balkin notes the article and wonders why, with retroactive immunity for our CIA torturers, the administration still won't say whether or not it's continuing to waterboard.
UPDATE: The Cunning Realist, whom I've bookmarked but don't read often enough, finds another 15% or so of the waterboarding story in a year-old ABC item:
The water board technique dates back to the 1500s during the Italian Inquisition. A prisoner, who is bound and gagged, has water poured over him to make him think he is about to drown. Current and former CIA officers tell ABC News that they were trained to handcuff the prisoner and cover his face with cellophane to enhance the distress.
"Torture is defined under the federal criminal code as the intentional infliction of severe mental pain or suffering," said John Sifton, an attorney and researcher with the organization Human Rights Watch. "That would include water boarding." On "Good Morning America" today, Goss told ABC News' Charles Gibson that the CIA does not inflict pain on prisoners.
Water boarding was designated as illegal by U.S. generals in Vietnam 40 years ago. A photograph that appeared in The Washington Post of a U.S. soldier involved in water boarding a North Vietnamese prisoner in 1968 led to that soldier's severe punishment. "The soldier who participated in water torture in January 1968 was court-martialed within one month after the photos appeared in The Washington Post, and he was drummed out of the Army," recounted Darius Rejali, a political science professor at Reed College....
Bit of a backslide from our previous Far Eastern counterinsurgency:
Earlier in 1901, the United States had taken a similar stand against water boarding during the Spanish-American War when an Army major was sentenced to 10 years of hard labor for water boarding an insurgent in the Philippines...