Regarding Those Claims About WWII Waterboarding

A former Wizbang blogger passed along some research he did regarding Paul Begala’s recent claim that the U.S. executed Japanese prisoners after WWII for waterboarding. The first thing he learned in his research is that the people in question where not — as Begala and some lefty bloggers claim — executed for waterboarding. (National Review had a good post addressing that this weekend citing the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, a.k.a. Tokyo Trials, in which “only seven Japanese war criminals were executed. Every one of them was convicted of either being complicit in or directly committing atrocities and murder on a grand scale.”)

In his research he found that not only was no one executed for waterboarding, but no one was prosecuted for waterboarding either:

There were 5 cases where Japanese citizens (one was a Japanese civilian) were prosecuted for torture that INCLUDED as part of the torture charges “water torture.” The first problem is they were also charged with much worse things along with “water torture.” The second is that the “water torture” that took place then is not the same as CIA “waterboarding.”

Specifications: beating using among others hands, sword scabbard, saber belt, belt buckle, bamboo sticks, rifle butts; kicking; subjecting PWs to ju-jitsu; forcing PW to stand at attention for a long period of time, sometimes in cold weather without sufficient clothing and on one occasion, in the nude; throwing a bucket of ice cold water over PW in cold weather;water treatment which entailed forcing water down PWs throat and nostrils using among others a hose, tubes; picking up and throwing PW to the ground; banging head against a wall; raising and lowering a sword on a PWs neck in an effort to make him give information.

Specifications: beating, kicking, water torture, burning using wood, lighted cigarettes and burning pokers, forcing to stand/kneel in snow w/out adequate protection

Specifications: beating using hands, fists, stick, rifle; water torture; burning using cigarettes

Specifications: beating using among other things belts, fists, bamboo sticks, rifle butts; kicking; water torture; burning using cigarettes; forcing sick PWs to work, refusing to properly treat PWs.
The 5th case he cites is the one Ted Kennedy mentioned in 2006 — the case of Yukio Asano who got 15 years for torturing prisoners.

From an October 2006 Washington Post report:

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.

Well, if anyone in the Senate knows about drownings simulated or otherwise, it’s Ted Kennedy.

But there are two holes in Kennedy’s statement… The first is the charges list many activites, including water torture:

Specifications:beating using hands, fists, club; kicking; water torture; burning using cigarettes; strapping on a stretcher head downward

The second problem with Kennedy’s statement is that the “water torture” wasn’t the same as CIA waterboarding…. Here are the actual charges….

Specification 1: That in or about July or August, 1943, the accused Yukio Asano, did willfully and unlawfully, brutally mistreat and torture Morris O. Killough, an American Prisoner of War, by beating and kicking him; by fastening him on a stretcher and pouring water up his nostrils.

Specification 2: That on or about 15 May, 1944, at Fukoka Prisoner of War Branch Camp Number 3, Kyushu, Japan, the accused Yukio Asano, did, willfully and unlawfully, brutally mistreat and torture Thomas B. Armitage, William O Cash and Munroe Dave Woodall, American Prisoners of War by beating and kicking them, by forcing water into their mouths and noses; and by pressing lighted cigarettes against their bodies.

He was pouring water DIRECTLY into their nose and mouth… When the CIA waterboards people, a rag is placed over the face to PREVENT water from entering the nose and mouth. This is a much harser and dangerous act. — In some of the other Japanese cases, the “water torture” included strapping people to ladders and dunking them face down into swimming pools until they passed out. This is not the same as waterboarding.

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