Regular readers know all about our nation's not-so-slow slide into the "dark side" (see, for instance, our interview with former Guantanamo (GTMO) Army Arabic linguist Erik Saar, where he (more or less) confirms (albeit by qualifying that it is "his hunch") that so-called "SERE" ("Survive, Evade, Resist, Escape") training methods, i.e. abuses designed for our members of our military to prepare for the exigency of being captured by hostile forces, were used by members of our military against detainees at GTMO.)
Well now... via Bruce the Veep and Andrew Sullivan, we give you this Time report confirming that the Pentagon, after an internal review, has concluded well... the same thing: SERE techniques (and other abusive methods of interrogation and detention) were used against detainees at GTMO routinely (as well as in Afghanista, Iraq, and elsewhere). No bad apples... just policy.
Although Abu Ghraib soldiers like former Sgt. Graner (a stateside prison guard, btw) may have themselves been over the top in their particular abuses, they were acting out an integral part of a policy that came from the top... from out of control General
Jack D. Ripper Geoffrey Miller, from SecDef Rumsfeld, and quite probably, from the White House itself. The mistake of Sgt. Graner, Pvt. England, et al, was allowing evidence of the abuse to exist... a mistake most other American interrogators and abusers have by and large managed to avoid.
And there you have it. The Military Commissions Act of 2006 did not have a retroactive grant of immunity of torture (for high officials, that is) gratuitously: it was understood that this was policy, and those intended to be protected stretched right up to the top echelons of the military and government.
Fortunately for some of these high ranking officials of the United States (and frequently with their assistance) an effective international system of justice has never really been permitted to develop.
Though many such officials should still consider their future international travel plans very carefully.