Waterboarding Then And Now

Evan Wallach writes in The Washington Post about the American government’s history of prosecuting waterboarding as a war crime: “After Japan surrendered, the United States organized and participated in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, generally called the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. Leading members of Japan’s military and government elite were charged, among their many other crimes, with torturing Allied military personnel and civilians. The principal proof upon which their torture convictions were based was conduct that we would now call waterboarding.” Meanwhile, during World War II our interrogators weren’t torturing people. And yet we managed to win the war somehow, possibly because torture is not, in fact, a vital tool of effective statecraft nearly so much as it is an intimidation tactic beloved by sadists and authoritarians.