Just a reminder of how previous governments have used "waterboarding" as an "alternative method" for interrogation in the past. Take the horrifying events in Singapore, under the Japanese in World War II. Blogger Robin Rowland has uncovered a gripping story:

Within days of liberation, on Monday September 3, 1945, the surviving civilian internees in Singapore, appointed a "commission of inquiry: into what happened to the former inmates at the hands of the kempeitai. This is how the commission described "the water treatment"

There are 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. Waters 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 or sometimes pressed 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 to a tub of water and kept there until almost drowned. After being revived, interrogation continued and he would be re-immersed.

Cyril Wild’s investigation of torture in Singapore showed that similar water torture was a favourite tactic of the kempeitai:

Wild questioned one of the those accused in the case, Sgt. Major Masuo Makizono. To Makizono, the most important aim was to discover how and what information was being passed from the civilian internees to the British guerrilla forces. Turning to the beating and torture, Wild asked: "Why were these cruelties practiced?"

"None of them would say where the transmitter was," Makizono said. "No information could be gotten from them about the location of British forces."

He told Wild beating was the most common form of abuse. If the kempeitai was dissatisfied with the answers or if they thought the prisoner was lying, they would use torture...

"Did you ever use the water treatment?" Wild asked.

Makizono described how suspects were tied up and laid on the ground. A kempeitai would force open then the prisoners' mouth, while another poured a bucket of water down the throat. "Did you block up the nose?" was Wild's last question.

No, Makizono replied he preferred to leave the nostrils open so he could pour water into them as well. Wild noted: "He appeared to take personal pride in describing such methods."

This president has authorized torture once used by the Japanes in World War II. But it isn't, according to the president, "torture." It is not a "grave breach" of the Geneva Conventions any more. Tell that to the vets of the Second World War. To their faces.

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