Among the recently released reports detailing the extent of torture by the CIA under George W. Bush is a memo written by the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice. That memo gave directions for the construction of special torture chambers with walls designed so that prisoners could be thrown against the wall up to 30 times in a row, and could even have their heads slammed up against the wall.
The walls were made of plywood instead of concrete as a supposed protection against severe physical injury.
This approach to interrogation was not only barbaric and illegal. It was downright stupid as well. Slamming your head against a plywood wall is a good way to get a concussion, a kind of bruising of the brain. It doesn’t matter that the plywood has a little more give to it than concrete does. What matters is that the head is moved quickly, and then that motion is stopped abruptly, so that the brain slams up against the skull.
Among the consequences of a concussion can be trouble concentrating and memory loss. If you want to get reliable information from someone, you don’t want that person to exhibit fuzzy thinking and have trouble remembering things.
The CIA interrogation tactics approved by the Bush Administration appear to have been founded in an emotional desire to enact vengeance upon accused enemies of the United States, rather than in a carefully considered plan to make the United States more secure. This heartfelt stupidity wasn’t merely a mistake. It was criminal. Conspiracy to commit torture is a violation against the Geneva Conventions and two separate criminal codes.
The torture trail now leads straight to the top of the Department of Justice, with a path from there to the White House strongly suggested. Any investigation of this torture that does not focus those at the top who directed the criminal conspiracy will amount to a coverup, rather than an objective pursuit of justice.