What the Japanese did to their POWs made even the Nazis blanch. The Japanese routinely beheaded and bayoneted prisoners; forced prisoners to dig their own graves and then buried them alive; amputated prisoners' healthy arms and legs, one by one, for sport; force-fed prisoners dry rice and then filled their stomachs with water until their bowels exploded; and injected them with chemical weapons in order to observe, time and record their death throes before dumping them in mass graves.
While only 4 percent of British and American troops captured by German or Italian forces died in captivity, 27 percent of British and American POWs captured by the Japanese died in captivity. Japanese war crimes were so atrocious that even rape was treated as only a secondary war crime in the Tokyo trial, similar to what happens during an R. Kelly trial.
The Japanese "water cure" was to "waterboarding" as practiced at Guantanamo what rape at knifepoint is to calling your secretary "honey."
The Japanese version of "waterboarding" was to fill the prisoner's stomach with water until his stomach was distended -- and then pound on his stomach, causing the prisoner to vomit.
Or they would jam a stick into the prisoner's nose so he could breathe only through his mouth and then pour water in his mouth so he would choke to death.
Or they would "waterboard" the prisoner with saltwater, which would kill him.
Meanwhile, the alleged "torture" under the Bush administration consists of things like:
"failing to respect a Serbian national holiday"; or
"forgetting to wear plastic gloves while handling a Quran."
Finding out who started the tall tale about "waterboarding" being treated as a war crime after World War II would take the talents of a forensic historian, someone like Christina Hoff Sommers.
After years of hearing the feminist "fact" that emergency room admissions for women beaten by their husbands soared by 40 percent on Super Bowl Sundays, Sommers traced it back to an unsubstantiated rumination erupting from a feminist rap session.
But the lunatic claim was passed around with increasing credibility until it ended up being cited as hard fact in The New York Times, The Boston Globe and on "Good Morning America."
One of the earliest entries in the "waterboarding as war crimes" myth must be this October 2006 article in The Washington Post, citing a case raised by Sen. Teddy Kennedy -- and heaven knows Kennedy understands the horrors of a near-drowning:
"Twenty-one years earlier, in 1947, the United States charged a Japanese officer, Yukio Asano, with war crimes for carrying out another form of waterboarding on a U.S. civilian. The subject was strapped on a stretcher that was tilted so that his feet were in the air and head near the floor, and small amounts of water were poured over his face, leaving him gasping for air until he agreed to talk."
Even if that description of what Asano did were true -- and it isn't -- the only relevant word in the entire paragraph is "civilian."
Any mistreatment of a civilian is a war crime. So every other part of that paragraph is utterly irrelevant to the treatment of prisoners of war, much less non-uniformed enemy combatants at Guantanamo, who could have been shot on sight under the laws of war.
What Americans need to understand is that under liberals' own "laws of war," they will invent apocryphal incidents from history in order to give aid and comfort to America's enemies and to undermine those who kept us safe for the past eight years.