This is an article in the Journal of Contemporary History, October 2010, p. 812-843.
The postwar US federal government spent a decade, initiated two federal treason trials, and dispensed over one million dollars in legal pursuit of John Provoo for his crimes in the Philippines as a POW and as a propaganda agent for the Japanese. In a strange perversion of justice the US attorney even invited to the federal court Provoo’s former captors – Japanese propagandists, military officials and POW guards – to establish his guilt. Why was the US government so keen to pursue and charge a lone second world war POW with treason? What dread did Provoo strike in the hearts of US officials? This article examines how Provoo embodied wartime and postwar American panic concerning East Asia, just as the situation in the region dramatically spiraled out of American control.