Cheney Offers Tortured View of History In Defending Waterboarding

250px-46_Dick_Cheney_3x4I have long argued in my column as well as numerous blog postings that our country is legally bound to prosecute people responsible for ordering torture during the Bush Administration. There is no question that water boarding is torture as recognized by President Obama, Attorney General Holder, the United Nations and virtually every expert in this field. However, while you may want to try to rewrite legal precedent (as did John Yoo and Jay Bybee in their infamous Torture Memos), you should not try to rewrite history. That is what former Vice President Dick Cheney appears to be doing this month. He told Chuck Todd on Sunday that we never prosecuted anyone for water boarding — an assertion that I and others have repeatedly raised over the years. The statement is simply false and adds historical revisionism to legal revisionism in our sordid foray into torture.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press” this last Sunday, Todd asked: “When you say waterboarding is not torture then why did we prosecute Japanese soldiers?”

Cheney responded:

“Not for waterboarding. They did an awful lot of other stuff. To draw some kind of moral equivalent between waterboarding judged by our Justice Department not to be torture and what the Japanese did with the Bataan Death March, with slaughter of thousands of Americans, with the rape of Nanking and all of the other crimes they committed, that’s an outrage. It’s a really cheap shot, Chuck, to even try to draw a parallel between the Japanese who were prosecuted for war crimes after World War II and what we did with waterboarding three individuals — all of whom are guilty and participated in the 9/11 attacks.”

In fact, we did prosecute. Indeed, the International Military Tribunal for the Far East convicted and ultimately executed Japanese war criminals Akira Muto and Iwane Matsui for atrocities at Nanking. This included water boarding prisoner, though it was called “the water treatment” where “the victim was bound or otherwise secured in a prone position; and water was forced through his mouth and nostrils into his lungs and stomach until he lost consciousness.”

Moreover, in 1947, we prosecuted Yukio Asano for the following these specific acts:

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.

Specification 5. That between 1 April, 1943 and 31 December, 1943, the accused Yukio Asano, did, willfully and unlawfully, brutally mistreat and torture John Henry Burton, an American Prisoner of War, by beating him, and by fastening him head downward on a stretcher and forcing water into his nose.

Asanao was sentenced to 15 years confinement at hard labor.

As noted by the Washington Post, First Lt. Seitara Hata, Sgt. Major Takeo Kita and Sgt. Hideji Nakamura faced similar charges. As noted by the Post, the testimony included that of Cpt. William Arno Bluehe who said “After beating me for a while they would lash me to a stretcher, then prop me up against a table with my head down. They would then pour about two gallons of water from a pitcher into my nose and mouth until I lost consciousness. When I revived they would repeat the beatings and ‘water cure’ . . . . The tortures and beatings continued for about six hours.”

Then there was Thomas B. Armitage:

“[We] were strapped to stretchers and warm water poured down our nostrils until we were about ready to pass out. [The Japanese] strapped him to a stretcher and elevated his feet and then poured on his face so that it was almost impossible for him to get his breath. [The victim] was then taken into the corridor, strapped to a stretcher, which was tilted so that his head was toward the floor and feet resting on a nearby sink.Water was then poured down his nose and mouth for about twenty minutes. Then I was taken into the hallway of the barracks. Both of the Japanese still insisting I was guilty and urging me to confess.”

Likewise, during the Vietnam War, an American soldier was court-martialed for water boarding a prisoner.

Ironically, while the Senate Report works hard to exonerate the Senators themselves from their past knowledge as well as Bush and Cheney, Cheney to his credit has admitted that both he and Bush were fully informed of the use of program.

220px-AbuGhraibAbuse-standing-on-boxThe cost of our torture program — and the failure to prosecute a single official for it (or the destruction of evidence and false statements revealed in its aftermath) will continue to cost this country dearly. Countries like Iran, North Korea, and China have already cited our use of water boarding to defend against their own abuses. When our soldiers or citizens are water boarded in the future, countries will play back Cheney’s words and others to say that such abuse is not torture. When we demand that officials in other countries be prosecuted for torture, they will mock our hypocrisy and own history. As much as history may be an inconvenient contradiction for people like Cheney, it will remain unrevised and unvarnished. We have prosecuted both Americans and foreigners for water boarding and we were right to do so. That is not the history that we should work to forget.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2014/12/16/cheneys-claim-that-the-u-s-did-not-prosecute-japanese-soldiers-for-waterboarding/

375 thoughts on “Cheney Offers Tortured View of History In Defending Waterboarding”

  1. The Honorable former Vice President answered the question exactly correctly.
    As long as the question is:
    “When you say waterboarding is not torture then why did we EXECUTE Japanese soldiers (for that)?”

    I thought that was the question based on Cheney’s response, actually.

  2. For all of the relativists out there, torture is defined by positive laws. Therefore, a change in the definition of torture is a legislative function. Congress no longer legislates. It merely objects selectively to the de facto performance of that function by the executive branch.

    We play word games because we are moral cowards unwilling to confront the reality of what we do.

    1. @Paul: ” if you think unemployment is really 5% you have not been paying attention to how they have been playing with the numbers.”

      I am going to guess you have been paying attention. So, how have they been playing with the numbers?

      The plain language of your remark suggests to me that you believe the unemployment numbers have been manipulated.

      The unemployment numbers may be misleading to some because the labor force participation rate is down, which tends to make the unemployment rate look better due to able workers not looking for work.

      But aside from that artifact of the way we construct the employment/unemployment numbers, are you claiming that BLS has manipulated the unemployment numbers?

      1. bfm – if you decide to manipulate the numbers so they no longer include certain groups, then yes, I would say they manipulated the numbers. BTW, have you noticed they always seem to have adjusted numbers 3 months later. Those numbers belie the original numbers put out.

        1. “if you decide to manipulate the numbers so they no longer include certain groups, then yes, I would say they manipulated the numbers.”

          So far as I know the BLS has not changed the definitions for the various measures of unemployment, U1 through U6, for years.

          I am not sure when the last change was made to the various categories of unemployment, but I am pretty sure it was a long time ago. The Federal Reserve at St Louis makes available time series for U3, the civilian unemployment rate frequently quoted as the ‘unemployment rate’, back before 1950.

          “BTW, have you noticed they always seem to have adjusted numbers 3 months later. Those numbers belie the original numbers put out.”

          The numbers are always adjusted at a later date because the initial numbers are approximations. Here are a couple of sentences from BLS regarding adjustment of the unemployment numbers: “Although BLS uses a variety of methods to gather these reports as quickly as possible, many businesses do not have their payroll data ready to report by the scheduled date that BLS initially releases the data. In 2012, for example, the average collection rate at the time of the initial release was 73.1 percent…..The initial estimate of job change for a month is based on the growth or loss of jobs at the businesses that have reported their data. Generally, BLS assumes that the employment situation at businesses that had reported is representative of the situation at those that had not yet reported.” But BLS continues to update the numbers as more firms report their payroll numbers.

          An alternative would be to wait and release the best numbers at a late date. But then we would not have our best estimate of the economic data for weeks. We are, after all, talking about a statistic, an estimate. I think serious users of the data know that the first release for a month is an approximation.

          Further, the data for a single month is not very meaningful because these numbers are always changing. It is the trend, the direction of movement that tells us the effect of policies and what is happening in the economy.

          If there is a problem I think it lies with MSM which seems to announce economic statistics with an air of certainty that is misleading.

          1. bfm – I would agree about the MSM, but the administration jumps on them like they found the Holy Grail.

    2. Mike, if Congress changed the US definition of certain procedures as not torture, and Obama has to sign because he’s allowed it, everybody can quit calling for trials? Make it retroactive to 2001 (Clinton did that with taxes) and this tortuous discussion is over? Writing my Congressman tomorrow. Not Senators, DiFi and Barby would never go for it. But we don’t need them to.

    3. Mike Appleton
      For all of the relativists out there, torture is defined by positive laws. Therefore, a change in the definition of torture is a legislative function. Congress no longer legislates. It merely objects selectively to the de facto performance of that function by the executive branch.

      We play word games because we are moral cowards unwilling to confront the reality of what we do.

      Well duh Paul C. Schulte isn’t everything relative as you are always painstakingly pointing out?

      I would like to point out that Politically speaking the People that we here have discussed in this Blog are Neo Conservatives or Neo Liberals or Paul calls them Wilsonian Liberals. Leo Straus called this the Noble Lie. To have as Cheney said, “The end justify the means”

      It is wrong. We have never stood for this. Never never never never never never never. I am old enough to have sat at my Father and Lt. Colonel Uncle Bob’s knee and be Very subjectively indoctrinated, thank God, that it is Wrong to Torture People.

      1. happypappies – people are prone to broad sweeping statements (myself included) and I do try to narrow them at times. You would be amazed the amount of pain I suffer allowing others to slip by uncommented on. 😉

        1. Paul C Schulte lol

          seriously? Would you believe I feel empathy here…. 😉 I also feel a certain amount of clairvoiance.

          I knew you would understand the comment

          🙂 😉

  3. Sandi:

    We do not measure our morality by the standards of the lynch mob because we understand that vengeance is merely anarchy in the service of blind rage, and emotion cannot serve as a foundation for any coherent theory of justice. We do not torture because we have a duty not to torture that is independent of, and therefore not affected by, the guilt or innocence of the intended subject. The idea of a government of laws is a hollow conceit if our commitment bends back and forth like the branches of a willow tree in a storm.

    1. Thank you, Paul C., we kept the USSR at bay for 70+ years because they feared us. We didn’t know how much until the falling apart. Right now who fears us? Nobody. We argue about scaring some people by water boarding. Not killing, scaring them. Is scaring someone now torture? If it is, my entire government has me scared to death.

      We are still the world’s largest super power, but to hear ourselves how would anybody know that? Oh dear, millions of people have “BROKEN” our laws by crossing the border illegally. Oh dear, how are we going to teach them, care for them, get jobs for them? We have millions out of work and Obama’s priority is illegals. It boggles the mind. it is torture!

      And most of you have no problem with letting people break our laws by coming here. But scare someone? Oh my, how bad can we get?

      All of us were handed a great country on a silver platter and have done nothing but yammer about how bad we are. Heaven forbid we hurt someone and save lives. It’s just not right.

      If someone broke our laws to keep us safe, God bless them!

      1. Once again I am tired of Obama being made out as the worst president we ever had.  I truly don’t see much difference between he and Bush.  Bush let those children through first.  Bush let Maliki think all was well and his governent was going to go free and Bush said the Banks were too Big to Fail.  Bush is a Liberal.  I don’t think it matters if he was in the GOP or not. His greatest legacy was the Homes he provided for the homeless.

        Our Unemployment is a 5 percent right now because we have a Neo Mercantilistic economy that was created by George H W Bush and Signed during the Clinton Presidency.  We suffered at first for it and China and the other countries did also because they were poor and polluted.  It seems things are starting go better now.  We can only pray people want a better life for themselves. There is NOTHING wrong with the economy being global if we still have our own country and are not Communists and have our currency and everything.  We have to be able to be flexible and think on our feet or we will never survive.  No dinosaurs ever survive.  They evolve or they go extinct. The fight/flight syndrome many people are experiencing is understandable but they need to get over it and understand we all need to get along with each other eventually.  That is the only way the beheadings and so forth will stop is to continually talk reason in the face of insanity.  Killing off everyone will not do it because you will just raise a batch of bloodthirsty wretches.

        1. happypappies – if you think unemployment is really 5% you have not been paying attention to how they have been playing with the numbers.

          1. Paul C. Schulte Happy New Year 🙂

            Oh, I never pay attention to anything when I make broad sweeping statements like I did last night in my rant. I never burn midnight oil regarding these things because I believe everything us.gov/ prints for us to see. I always have. Never questioned it being in business solving problems. I see that bigfatmike had something to say about it.

            Furthermore, I have created several resumes for myself on different web based applications and if for some reason I would have to go back to work full time, it would be no problem even though I only have 72 credit hours. I have a 4.0 grade average but I dropped out when my Mom passed away. I did get my associates and you can do anything in business with Liberal Arts. Anyone who says you can’t simply doesn’t want to or has no force of personality.

            There is so much more opportunity now than there was when I was young and had to stand in line to get a job at Chuck a Burger with 80 other applicants when I was 19 it is ridiculous.

            I do nothing but explore the web anymore. I find it very interesting in furthering my autodidactic pursuits. Last night when Darren Smith talked about the Observer Effect being used to guard the gateways of Computers in advanced new programs I stayed up all night and studied quantum physics and computers. It was fascinating.

            You know me well enough that I did too. 😉

  4. rafflaw, I recently got an e-mail from a friend, who warned me the pictures were gruesome. And they were. Lots of 9/11 pictures of people waving white handkerchiefs out windows, their faces. The jumpers, which the media has not shown us, then a stunner. A man’s body after landing from a jump. He had a major connection at the torso, a leg nearby, his intestines flowing out of him. There were a few more. Did you know a jumper landed on a fireman, killing them both?

    You will never get the American people to agree to criminal charges for the people who paid some back. And not badly enough! Add to that what we’ve seen recently, the children beheadings. The evil sickens me and I want it wiped off the planet! If we’d had Bush the last six years we’d be looking at a far different situation. A far better one. A lot of children with their heads going on with a good life.

    Now we have scum here killing policemen. Well, hang them upside down from a tree until they die and that isn’t bad enough. Citizens who have a weapon and the legal right to carry, it’s time to guard those who’ve been guarding us all our lives. Does everyone see the scheme? Kill police then yourself. Society is unable to get retribution.

  5. Happypappies, if these pages and pages of everyone’s view of torture, criminal charges, etc., has gotten something dark inside you out to the light and you are freeing yourself, then every word has been a good thing. In many ways our personal problems impact our entire lives far more than a stupid ruling or unfair punishment. Whoever you spoke to about your past, keep discussing it. Professional counseling would be best, but do what you are comfortable with.

    Big first step, though. Keep on stepping, tiny or big! I know a lot of people on this blog wish you the best.

    1. Sandi Hemming said

      Now we have scum here killing policemen. Well, hang them upside down from a tree until they die and that isn’t bad enough. Citizens who have a weapon and the legal right to carry, it’s time to guard those who’ve been guarding us all our lives. Does everyone see the scheme? Kill police then yourself. Society is unable to get retribution.

      Yes – I see this and that is why I go on the rants I do. I went to Yahoo Answers the other day for fun and someone had asked why people commit suicide and there were over 100 answers to the question. ….. Not reasons why but confessions…. Young people in despair over stupid things. Not people that were black either. I am seeing more like the dissolution of morals though. Blatant disrespect for each others humanity. It is sick on so many levels that it takes God to figure it out.

      Thank you for your concern. That happened at an Ice house at Lackland and Spencer in Overland MO. It helps because I can remain anonymous. I am old enough and strong enough in my ego to not need any recognition or want it. It’s just not safe anymore. With everything going on in my personal life now it kind of coughed itself up. lol

    1. Thank you rafflaw. I am fine today really. Just different than most people and have empathy like you do.

    1. You said “If libertarians would vote a Republican we’d have fewer liberals in office. Then work together, find areas you agree on and build on that. I don’t think the American people will go along with legalizing all drugs. I’ve tried marijuana twice, for pain relief. There wasn’t much relief, but no way should I have driven a car.”

      Just out of nowhere. It just seemed kind of condescending as I had posted a Christmas song and all. I am 60 years old and I don’t party and haven’t for 34 years.

        1. Okay Sandi – Libertarian – Classical Liberal – not Obama Progressive Liberal like today. They are like the Founders. Nothing like the lazy ones you see around. I lean more toward the right anyway because I think the problem today IS DRUGS not RACISM. Not mad at you but made a confession tonight to someone I held in for 36 years. I was gang raped in that Ferguson Area by WHITE people that were on DRUGS. It is a culture and not a color. Now I feel much better. I never got all that counseling they talk about because you don’t talk about it. Sorry – Sometimes I get things wrong.

  6. I do believe that most of the people in this country are good. I also am a firm believer in the American dream because I lived it. I also know capitalism is far better than socialism. That’s why this country is the best place in the world. If we just brought our military home, what would happen? They all would keep fighting over there and leave us alone? No, they want to kill everybody in this country, everybody. Once you accept that, you’ll want to keep them away from here.

    1. Sandy – What we do in order to live the American Dream is a nightmare. I am not a Socialist but a Libertarian. We need to come home. Mind our own Business. We are out of hand. 30 thousand people in Afghanistan and leaving 10 or 20 thousand to watch over the Afghanistan pipeline to be built and you say you believe in that? Well, I certainly don’t. We can find other ways to get our oil. The Globalism and the way we coup d’etat is out of hand and wrong and not good. It was not good in 1953 when Eisenhower pulled Operation Ajax. We have lots of problems now because of that. We had problems before that starting with watching over Standard Oil in the ME but it’s never ever ever enough for the American Dream. You go ahead and live it. I think it’s a nightmare. You look around and tell me that what is going on right now isn’t a direct result of that “dream” and be honest about it. We need to straighten out this mess here. Big time, Anyway. I really don’t want to argue with you on Christmas Eve so I will close by saying Merry Christmas!

      1. Happypappies, the only way to change what you are concerned about is voting for people who share your concerns. Write your Senators, Congressman to inform them of your concerns. But, what should be done differently. Are we building an oil pipeline in Afghanistan? That’s new to me. Look what happened to Iraq when we left completely. I don’t want that to happen in a Afghanistan.

        If libertarians would vote a Republican we’d have fewer liberals in office. Then work together, find areas you agree on and build on that. I don’t think the American people will go along with legalizing all drugs. I’ve tried marijuana twice, for pain relief. There wasn’t much relief, but no way should I have driven a car.

        1. Sandi Hemming.- I tend to agree with Darren Smith regarding our Congresspeople. They are very aware of our concerns but think we are stupid and are in it for themselves and the graft and corruption that is in the system is proof positive of this. Obama said he was leaving the 15,000 behind till 2024 See TAP
          http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=1707361
          http://www.businessinsider.com/us-and-afghanistan-agreed-to-wars-future-2013-11

          I never said I voted Libertarian, I said I thought that way. I have no Idea what your comment about the Pot means…. We are in a bad way now and it’s getting worse. That is for sure. Arguing ideologies doesn’t do any good.

  7. Today’s comment by Mr. Turley is troubling to me. Are these laws part of the Geneva Convention? I don’t like tying our leaders up while they are trying to keep the country safe. Obviously, Bush could have pardoned everybody. Then Obama could have pardoned Bush. So the purpose of this “trial” would be to tell the world how awful we can be? No other country would even consider doing this self-flaggelation. It serves the country no purpose. It relies on the character and courage of a President to do what is recommended. Or not to, and costing the country lives and destruction.

    In the violent world we currently live in, why would any enemy limit their actions? What the enemy does would be a free lunch, no matter how ghastly.

  8. I’m sure I read this on this blog, but can’t find it.

    It was about mobster forms of torture. One was putting a man’s head in a vise and slowly squeeze. After one eye popped out, they got all the info they wanted.

    Just showing me the movie, with sound and color, and I would “sing like a canary.” Do films of prior tortures have any effect? How about when the vise is put on your head?

  9. Who are so-called torture experts? How many lives matter enough to use torture? I know some things that would be painful, breaking an arm, but torture? Do lights on all the time torture? Or no light ever? Or loud music constantly? We have millions of people listening to horrid sounds called music, they pay for it, it shrieks to me. Is that torture? It is when they walk behind me with their boom boxes on full blast! Does the man planning and paying for thousands to be killed monster enough for torture? Was listening to helicopters and soldiers coming for him torture? Pulling a hair from genital area is painful, for both sexes. Would that be torture? The Geneva Convention was not agreed to by every country. We have a lot to think about.

    1. Sandi you can’t really believe our leaders are knights in shining armor wanting to keep the country safe can you? We are the robber barons of the world and we want to keep it safe for capitalism. That is the truth. And Obama is just Bush Lite. My Husband just wants us to bring the boys home and stop fighting wars for the Neo Mercantilists, and for us to stop paying taxes on their wars. To have dynastic presidents in office and pay taxes on their interests or the major stockholders in Congress is nothing to do with keeping the country safe but it is everything to do with keeping their interests safe.

  10. Thanks for the tip Chuck, I just read it. This CWO is one wise man. Yes, we don’t need to be tortured to know torture is immoral and for those who can’t figure it out, well that’s just sad.

  11. Sandi,
    Why continue to comment on this thread if you’re “so tired” of discussing torture? If we as Americans don’t hold ourselves accountable when we break laws, who will? Maybe some international tribunal? How would that make the US appear in the eyes of the world? People like Professor Turley and many more who agree with him want prosecutions.

    “Our leaders” broke laws. If you want to hold President Obama responsible for not following laws or even breaking them, you make yourself appear hypocritical when you want to give the other “leaders” a pass. And yes indeed if President Obama, or any other President broke laws he should be impeached, but it appears the cowardly Congress won’t go there.

    1. Inga,
      Have you read Jim Wright’s latest post on Stonekettle Station? The subject is torture. Definitely worth a read, since he comes at the issue from a different and rather clever perspective. Jim is a former Naval intelligence officer, so the crusty old Chief Warrant Officer has the street cred which empty suits on television don’t have.

  12. bigfatmike, the punishments were for the captured guilty party. Is sawing off a head while the victim screams torture?

    I am so tired of this torture discussion, I bet the American people are too. We are good people who would never consider flying planes into buildings full of people just because we didn’t like them. And don’t argue about Japan. That’s why I don’t think we would consider it.

    I don’t want any stupid trials. Our leaders did what they considered needed to be done. If Obama had left some troops in Iraq that little girl’s head would be continuing her life. Should he be charged with allowing everything happening over there by removing troops?

    He should be impeached. I don’t know why everyone thinks that would be wrong. As I reread the Constitution and Federalists, it seems impeachment was designed to fit exactly to Obama,

    1. ” Is sawing off a head while the victim screams torture? ”

      I am pretty sure it counts as murder. I am not sure whether that matches the legal definition of torture, but I am sure some reader can tell us.

      Whatever label we place on the crime, I think most of us would like to see it stopped. The question, in my mind, is what is the most effective and efficient action to prevent such crimes.

      Some in this thread have claimed that we need everything on the table. I for one don’t see how cutting off heads of our adversaries is likely to reduce the number of heads they cut off. Head cutting is one technique that I do not think benefits us, so I do not think it useful for us to keep head cutting on the table.

      Others may disagree. I would be pleased to consider the rational argument that we need to implement head cutting capability to counter our adversaries – or based on the incident quoted above that we need to develop the ability to cut off the heads of children. Somehow, am just not convinced that matching our adversaries barbarity for barbarity is useful to us in any way.

      As for Obama, I am not sure that incompetent foreign policy is an impeachable offense.

      But I think one might make an argument that regardless of high crimes and misdemeanors, impeachment is, in effect, an escape valve democracy and intended to allow an orderly removal of a deeply unpopular leader.

      I am sure that notion will be hooted at by people able to quote historical documents about impeachment. All I can do is observe that political systems that do not provide for peaceful change, still change.

  13. Sandi, I don’t think that people ARE listening to him SERIOUSLY. That’s the whole point. It’s supposed to be humerous, satire. And sometimes some real truths can be expressed best by satire. Sandi your authoritarian side is showing, political cartoons and satire are all acceptable forms of communicarion and have always been posted here on RIL since it’s inception. Question all you want, I’ll be sure to ‘answer’. And your comment about being “tortured by the Clintons” wasn’t really funny and I do not like the Clinton’s.

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