Waterboarding was a war crime in WW2. What's changed?
April 21, 2009
Dick Cheney wants us all to know how effective waterboarding has been [ http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article6138465.ece ]
in providing the CIA with "intelligence". It doesn't have a good track record.
Water torture was commonly used in Japanese prisoner of war camps during interrogations. Eric Lomax recently described in The Times [ http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/the_way_we_live/article3476414.ece ]
his horrific experience of it at the hands of the Kempetai, the Japanese military Police.
In another notorious case from 1943, prisoners in Changi jail were interrogated after British and Australian commandos had sunk Japanese ships in Singapore harbour. The Japanese believed, wrongly, that civilian internees in Changi had passed information to the commandos. Of the 57 who were interrogated, one was executed and another 13 died as a result of torture, beatings and starvation.
After the liberation of Singapore in 1945, a commission of inquiry [ http://www.cofepow.org.uk/pages/civilian_double_tenth_atrocity.htm ]
set up by former prisoners reported on the incident, describing the "water treatment" that had been used, and the ease with which entirely innocent prisoners had been made to confess: There were two forms of water torture. In the first the victim was tied or held down on his back and a cloth placed over his nose and mouth. Water was then poured on the cloth. Interrogation proceeded. and the victim was beaten if he did not reply. As he opened. his mouth to breathe or answer questions, water went down his throat until he could hold no more. Sometimes he was then beaten over his distended stomach, sometimes a Japanese jumped on his stomach or sometimes pressed on it with his foot. In the second, the victim was tied. lengthways on a ladder, face upwards, with a rung of the ladder across his throat and his head below the ladder. In this position he was slid head first into a tub of water and kept there until almost drowned. After being revived interrogation continued and he would be re-immersed.
As a war crimes investigator, my uncle, Cyril Wild [ http://archive.timesonline.co.uk/tol/viewArticle.arc?articleId=ARCHIVE-The_Times-1946-10-11-07-020&pageId=ARCHIVE-The_Times-1946-10-11-07 ]
, interrogated one of the accused officers. You can read a transcript of the interrogation in this blog by Robin Rowland [ http://robinrowland.com/garret/2005/11/waterboarding-is-war-crime.html ]
, author of A River Kwai Story [ http://robinrowland.com/kwai.html ]
, the Sonkrai Tribunal.
After the war ended, Japanese officers who had participated in the torture of prisoners, including the use of waterboarding, were condemned to death [ http://archive.timesonline.co.uk/tol/viewArticle.arc?articleId=ARCHIVE-The_Times-1946-02-12-03-007&pageId=ARCHIVE-The_Times-1946-02-12-03 ]
in the Far East war crimes trials. And General Yamashita, commander of Japanese forces in the Philippines, was condemned to death by the US Supreme Court for his failure to prevent his forces from committing atrocities.
The controversial decision that a commander in chief should be held personally responsible for the acts of all the men under his command became known as the Yamashita Standard [ http://www.answers.com/topic/command-responsibility ]
Copyright 2009 Times Newspapers Ltd. http://timesonline.typepad.com/timesarchive/2009/04/waterboarding-was-a-war-crime-in-ww2-whats-changed.html