Good for the gander

May 17, 2009

ssn590_sculpin_insigIf former Vice President Cheney or Ann Coulter or others of that stripe find time to read Jonathan J. McCullough’s book “A Tale of Two Subs,” there’s one paragraph they shouldn’t overlook. This book concerns the U.S. submarine service during World War II, and it recounts the sinking of the sub USS Sculpin and the imprisonment and mistreatment of the survivors from its crew. McCullough mentions Lieutenant Commander John Fitzgerald, who had commanded the USS Grenadier and was captured by the Japanese. McCullough writes:

Fitzgerald had also undergone what he called “the water treatment.” The guards strapped him to a table, elevated his feet by about 30 degrees, covered his mouth with their hands, and poured water into his nostrils, asking questions all the while. After a few minutes he passed out, and when he came to, the process started all over again. For hours. He was barely able to muster any sort of answer, let alone tell them what they wanted to know, and when he was lucid he told them only lies and misleading half-truths. This was waterboarding. After the war the Allied war crimes tribunals classified the practice as a form of torture, a war crime, and handed down prison sentences spanning decades to its practitioners.

Torture. A war crime. Then and now.