Friday, December 12, 2014

Infamous Decapitators Treated Kindly

During China's War Against Japanese Aggression (1937-1945), China's part in World War Two (1939-1945), Japanese soldiers became notorious for beheading helpless victims.

For the Allies, Japan's brutality was not an excuse to abuse Japanese Prisoners of War.

US interrogators hosted Japanese prisoners at "Camp Tracy," actually a luxury resort hotel at California's Byron Hot Springs.  US interrogators treated Japanese prisoners kindly, providing them meals cooked by Asian chefs and spa baths.

In 2010, former interrogator Al Nipkow told The San Francisco Chronicle that "as far as brutalizing anyone--there wasn't any question about that.  It wasn't allowed."

Please check Kevin Fagan, "Army official touts WWII's nisei interrogators," The San Francisco Chronicle, 24 January 2010, [accessed 12 December 2014].   The treatment of Japanese prisoners by Chinese guerrillas is mentioned in the second section of this post, "Treating Enemy Wounded."

Monday, December 8, 2014

Torture Endangers American Lives

   In a November 28, 1782 sermon of thanksgiving, Rev. John Witherspoon remarked, "The barbarous treatment of the American prisoners...will be a stain upon the British name to future ages."
   The United States tightened security at embassies around the world in preparation for the December 9, 2014 release of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on torture committed by CIA personnel in the years following the mass murder attacks of September 11, 2001.
   It is helpful to remember that it is not the Senate Intelligence Committee report that might inspire violence.  Advocates of torture claimed the torture and perverted sexual degradation would somehow save American lives.  Instead, torture is still endangering American lives, years after the torture happened.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The [un-]Islamic State used Waterboarding

The Washington Post reports that ISIS or ISIL (now calling itself IS) apparently waterbaorded four captives, including the late journalist James Foley.  Reporters Adam Goldman and Julie Tate write, "President Obama has condemned waterboarding as torture."

More importantly, US courts treated the technique as torture, as did the post-World War II war crimes court, the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, in which the US participated.

Judge Evan Wallach's research demonstrated this.  Wallach is a veteran of the Nevada National Guard, having served in the JAG Corps (military lawyers).

Wallach's scholarly essay appeared in The Columbia Journal of Transnational Law.  A shorter version appeared as an Op-Ed for The Washington Post.  

Monday, July 7, 2014

nonsectarian revolution

In response to an August 1776 address from the Association of Baptist Churches in Louisa County, Virginia Governor Patrick Henry remarked, "I am happy to find...that those religious distinctions which formally produced some heats are now forgotten.  Happy must every friend of virtue and America perceive that the only contest among us, at this most critical and important period, is, who shall be foremost to preserve our religious and civil liberties."

In a May 1776 sermon, Presbyterian pastor John Witherspoon, the sixth President of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), said, "Nor was there ever perhaps in history so general a commotion from which religious differences have been so entirely excluded."

The prison ships operated by the British off occupied cities like Charleston and New York held American Revolutionaries of various religious and ethnic backgrounds.  On a prison ship off Savannah, Georgia, for instance, Jewish-Americans Mordecai Sheftall and his fifteen-year-old son Sheftall Sheftall were messmates with Congregationalist minister Moses Allen.  

John Witherspoon, "The Dominion of Providence Over the Passions of Men," 17 May 1776, in The Selected Works of John Witherspoon, ed. Thomas Miller (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1990), page 142.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

O Khaled, Thou Butcher

In 1764, Benjamin Franklin quoted the Prophet Muhammad, who condemned a commander for the butchering of Prisoners of War: "O Khaled, thou butcher.... If thou possessedst a heap of gold as large as Mount Obod, and shouldst expend it all in God's cause, thy merit would not efface the guilt incurred by the murder of the meanest of those poor captives."

On June 14, 2014, Peter Bouckaert, of Human Rights Watch, Tweeted, "#ISIS on @twitter claims 2b taking truckloads of captured soldiers to their executions in Tikrit today....

Saturday, March 15, 2014

surprised by kind treatment

“Japanese prisoners taken by the United States forces in the Solomon Islands fighting...were so surprised by the humane treatment they have received that many have expressed a desire never to return to Japan, according to an announcement today by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz's Pacific Fleet headquarters.”
The New York Times, 15 September 1942 

“We learn from Pennsylvania, that many of the Hessian prisoners have offered to enlist in our army, but that their offer was declined for the present.  They express great joy at being released from their late masters, and were greatly surprised to find themselves treated with clemency and kindness.”
The Norwich Packet (Norwich, Connecticut), 3 February 1777

The Revolutionary Generation of Americans, as well as the World War Two generation, embraced humane sentiments about the kind treatment of captive enemies.  Perhaps the influence of popular culture fostered magnanimity, associating mercy with bravery.  

Monday, March 10, 2014

Defending Bob Dole

Reporter Andrea Mitchell asks Senator (and former Prisoner of War) John McCain about recent remarks from Senator Ted Cruz about World War II veteran Bob Dole.  Serving in Italy in 1944, Dole was severely injured by German shrapnel and still suffers paralysis in his right arm.

Cruz attempted to discredit Dole as a voice of reason in his party.  Dole, however, has a long record of public service even after his military career.  Dole served in the United States House of Representative from 1961 to 1969 and the US Senate from 1969 to 1996.  In 1996, President Bill Clinton won reelection over Ross Perot as the Reform Party candidate and Bob Dole as the Republican nominee.  

Friday, March 7, 2014

Stand Up for Bob Dole

This blog repeatedly featured salutes to the generation that endured World War Two.  Americans born in the 1930s, the 1920s and earlier are the group with the highest proportion to say torture is "never justified."  In their rejection of torture, they beat every economic, educational and religious category considered by the Pew Research Center surveyors.

In this clip from 1996, Author and Comedian (now a United States Senator) Al Franken defends World War II veteran Bob Dole from critics who called him "too old."  Please watch and enjoy.