Interviewer Jonathan Karl: In hindsight, do you think that any of the tactics used against Khalid Sheikh Muhammed went too far?
Cheney: I don’t
Karl: And on KSM, of course, one of those tactics reported was waterboarding, and that seems to be a tactic we no longer use. Even that, you think, was appropriate?
Cheney: I do.
I was listening to a mini-debate on On Point with Tom Ashbrook the other day and a caller made an interesting point that sent me a-searching on the Internet afterwards. The caller simply said this.
“Let’s seek a little historical context here. In 1945, when we found out Japanese officials had used a similar waterboarding treatment, we hanged them from the neck until dead. Just thought I’d offer that.”
Well, after hearing that I was pretty shaken up. Wouldn’t you be? I already had deep ethical disgust for this treatment along with America’s secret CIA prisons where they do pretty much whatever they want to suspects to force “confessions” from them, but now I had something I could sink my teeth into. As I searched on the Internet to find legitimate sources, I found the situation wasn’t as cut-and-dried as the caller made it on the radio, but waterboarding was clearly a war-crime. That much is inarguable. And some were hanged for combining waterboarding with other immoral information extraction techniques. Here’s some words from those sources.
From Robin Rowland over at The Garret Tree,
The bottom line is that when “water treatment” was practiced against our side, it was called a war crime. That was the ruling against the Japanese after the Second World War by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East and by the military courts that tried what were called in the Far East, the “B” and ”C” level war criminals.
When the leaders of Japan were found guilty of multiple and horrific war crimes, one of them was the “water treatment.” Those who actually did the “water treatment” –the officers who directed torture (B level) and those who carried it out (C level) were guilty of war crimes. Some were executed.”
The man who authorized those techniques at the Singapore YMCA, Lt. Col. Sumida, was sentenced to hang. Sumida, in his statement during the trial said, “I felt the state of peace and order and this serious incident were related and that a thorough measure should be taken to prevent the recurrence of such serious incidents.
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 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.
And just to provide a bit of levity here, so the criminality of waterboarding argument isn’t accused of being a partisan ploy (which is baseless anyways in light of the larger historical context), here’s John McCain during the Republican presidential primary,
There should be little doubt from American history that we consider that as torture otherwise we wouldn’t have tried and convicted Japanese for doing that same thing to Americans,” McCain said during a news conference…”I would also hope that he would not want to be associated with a technique which was invented in the Spanish Inquisition, was used by Pol Pot in one of the great eras of genocide in history and is being used on Burmese monks as we speak,” the Arizona senator said. “America is a better nation than that.
And if you’re asking me, it doesn’t take waterboarding being widely considered torture to solve the issue. Beyond the legality of the practice, there’s how employing the practice and openly admitting to it affects how the world views the United States. How much does it destroy our integrity in the eyes of the world; our moral standing? And isn’t that the more important issue here? In what has been termed a “war on terror,” wouldn’t we want to go out of our way to avoid terrorizing people we suspect might be terrorists. Again, not people we know are terrorists, but people wesuspect are terrorists? Does anyone feel the same as me, or am I out on an island here?